The chances of the 2009 Division 3 North Quarter Final boys soccer matchup between Rockport and Lynnfield being a great game were almost certain. No. 4 Rockport and No. 5 Lynnfield were virtual carbon copies of one another in terms of skill and the teams, who had developed an intense rivalry, battled to a heated scoreless draw in the regular season.
This game not only lived up to its billing, but the teams took it one step further and put on an instant classic.
Rockport midfielder Andreas Contreras sent the Vikings to the semis and their biggest rivals packing by heading in the winning goal on a perfect cross from Ben Clarkson early in the second sudden death overtime frame. Contreras’ goal was the only goal of the game and the only goal in 170 minutes of soccer played between the two teams that season.
Although there was not a whole lot of scoring in the contest, the intensity and drama was about as high as it could be. But what set this game aside from the other great soccer games over the last half decade was the rivalry, to put it simply these teams hated each other. Fortunately for those in attendance it was that mutual dislike that brought out the best in both the Vikings and Pioneers, who finished first and second in the Cape Ann League Small during the regular season.
The level of play, tempo of play and physicality were at a premium as both teams were fighting and clawing for every inch of the field.
Rockport had Lynnfield on its heels in the first half as the majority of play was fought in Rockport’s offensive end, but the Pioneers defense hung tough allowing just a couple of quality scoring chances.
Scott Noble appeared to put the Vikings up 1-0 in the 28th minute when he redirected a cross from Clarkson; but he was whistled offsides and the game remained scoreless. Mike Emerson had Rockport’s other strong opportunity when his free kick from just outside the box went just wide of the net.
The game started to get a bit chippy in the second half as the referees had to hand out multiple yellow cards. But that didn’t slow down the tempo or stop either team from playing a physical brand of soccer.
Early in the second half the teams traded opportunities and play was even, but as the minutes ticked off the clock the Vikings began to take control. In the waning minutes Rockport put several quality scoring chances on Lynnfield goalie Jerry Reid but the shots either went wide or were turned away by the Pioneers keeper.
In overtime Contreras nearly ended things with a header off of a cross, foreshadowing his goal in the second overtime. After Contreras’ opportunity in OT, Vikings head coach Dave Curley knew his midfielder would end it on a similar play.
“We could beat them down the flanks,” Curley told the Times after the win. “I was imploring the wing midfielder to get to the far post. Andreas was not to be denied.”
In the second overtime the Vikings aggressive offensive play finally paid off when Contreras headed in the cross from Clarkson on an eerily similar play to the one in the first overtime preventing the game from going into penalty kicks and propelled the Vikings into the semi finals.
“It was the biggest goal of my life,” Contreras said after the win. “I felt like it was only a matter of time because we had so many chances. This was a grudge match and there was a lot at stake.”