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North Andover coach savors final run

Franklin’s Kristi Kirshe (top) and Beverly’s Eva Gourdeau collide during Franklin’s 2-0 Division 1 EMass final victory.

Photos by Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Franklin’s Kristi Kirshe (top) and Beverly’s Eva Gourdeau collide during Franklin’s 2-0 Division 1 EMass final victory.

After his squad had knocked off defending EMass boys’ champion Concord-Carlisle, 3-1, in the Division 2 North sectional final, North Andover coach Bill Tarbox stood on the turf at Manning Field in disbelief watching the players show off their new hardware to their fans across the field.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Tarbox said while shaking his head with an ear-wide grin across his face. “We’re banged up. I didn’t expect that we would do this.”

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But his Scarlet Knights were willing to battle through the bumps and bruises to bring their coach as far as possible in his final season at the helm.

After 22 seasons with North Andover, Tarbox is calling it a career, but not before he saw his boys scrape and claw their way to the school’s first sectional title in 12 years.

“It’s the best thing; I’m happy that we could do it for him,” said junior Mike Skarbelis , who scored the game-winning goal against Concord-Carlisle despite missing half of the game due to injury. “He’s worked hard all these years and we’re trying to work hard to get him a state title.”

“I’ve been with him for three years,” said senior cocaptain Connor Boudreau. “We’ve dedicated our play to him all postseason. It means a lot to us.”

Tarbox guided the Knights to back-to-back sectional final games against Woburn, in 1999 and 2000, winning the former.

“Braintree? I don’t want to go there,” joked Tarbox, when told of the upcoming match against Medway. “We lost to Duxbury there in ’99.”

On Wednesdaynight, Tarbox’s storied career came to an end on that field in Braintree as Medway took out the Knights, 3-0.

Beverly run ends
at feet of Franklin

She shattered the scoring mark at Beverly High, but Caitlin Harty continues to reach milestones on the pitch.

With her Panthers trailing 1-0 at halftime of their Division 1 North final match against unbeaten Catholic Central, Harty marched into the second half with purpose.

After only three minutes of time in the half, she burned past the Raider defense to collect a long outlet pass and chipped the ball over keeper Lauren Flynn for her 50th goal of the season, tying the game.

A late breakaway bid for goal No. 51 was thwarted by Flynn, but Harty, along with three other Beverly players, would bury a penalty shot in the shootout to help the Panthers capture their first-ever North title.

Her 50th goal will stand as the last of her historic junior season.

In the Division 1 EMass final, Harty was covered tightly by Franklin defender Julia Bireley all night, and when she did pop open, two more defenders were there to contain her.

When the Panthers walked off the field having lost 2-0, Harty hugged her crying senior teammates, offered them a huge smile of gratitude, and thanked them for all they had done during their magical stretch in the postseason.

Meanwhile, Beverly coach Kristin Simpson was looking toward the future.

“I hope that this loss stays in the pit of their stomach and it stays until next year,” said Simpson, who will return 12 players next season.

“I think we can definitely build off of what we have coming back and hopefully we can make another run at it next year.”

Somerville’s only loss comes in final game

When the final whistle blew in the Division 1 EMass final Wednesday night, the Somerville boys fell to the turf of Manning Field, drained and exhausted after having just suffered their only loss of the season, 2-1, against Needham.

Their fate came down to a call by the referees, who late in the first half booked defender Andre Rolim for a takedown of Mac Steeves in the box when the two battled for a ball.

“It’s tough when you lose on something like that,” said Somerville coach George Scarpelli. “You’re talking two kids who are working hard for the ball, all night long. This wasn’t a shock. They were going at it all night. It is what it is and this is why you preach to finish your chances.”

When Steeves converted the subsequent penalty kick, the Highlanders found themselves trailing for only the second time all season and their potent offense stalled out at the Needham doorstep down the stretch.

“We moved the ball around well and attacked the goal,” said Scarpelli. “We had a lot of chances in the first half and didn’t put them away. When you don’t put away chances like that, you leave it up to calls like that.”

The Division 1 North champs finished the season with a 20-1-2 mark, going further than any team from Somerville in 20 years.

Prep takes hard road to North sectional

With only eight goals allowed during a one-loss regular season, St. John’s Prep had a reputation for staunch defense and great goaltending, a lethal one-two punch at tourney time.

The Eagles rode their hot hand to the Division 1 North sectional where they lost, 1-0, to one of the most explosive offenses around in Somerville.

On top of it all, Prep (17-2-2) faced one of the toughest roads in any sectional, drawing a very strong Framingham team in the first round.

The Prep took out the Flyers, 2-1, then beat sixth-seeded Acton-Boxborough 1-0 before handing top-ranked Masconomet its only loss of the season, 2-1, in the semifinal game.

Senior defensive captain Carter Ocko, who delivered the winning goal against Masco, served as the commander of the back unit and was solid against Somerville’s quick, skilled attack.

Keeper Ben Alpern , who came up with five key saves in the final, was lauded for his efforts this season, stepping into the starting role after Brian Keough was injured prior to the start of the season.

“He kept us in the game . . . gave us the chance to get the tie and send it to overtime,” said St. John’s Prep coach Dave Crowell of his goalie’s play.

The Eagles last reached the North final in 2008, where they lost to this year’s first-round opponent Framingham, 2-0.

Craig Forde can be reached at cforde@globe.com.
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