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Players made winning choice on soccer pitch

Two of the most dangerous strikers in Eastern Massachusetts were not supposed to be leading their respective high schools to state championships this fall.

Needham High senior Mac Steeves and Nate Pomeroy, a senior at Groton-Dunstable Regional, both play for the FC Greater Boston Bolts, an academy team that falls under a new rule by US Soccer that has its athletes play a 10-month season, starting in September, which blocks them from also competing at the high school level.

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Pomeroy believes he and Steeves are the only two local club players that chose their high school teams instead this fall.

As their reward, Groton-Dunstable captured the Division 2 state title, and Needham took home the Division 1 trophy.

“It would have been miserable to go through school every day saying, ‘Good luck at the game today, I have to go to a club practice,’ ” said Pomeroy, who pumped in 26 goals and 24 assists for the Crusaders this fall. “That would have been so unreasonable. They look up to me. That would have been ridiculous.”

Pomeroy finished his four-year career at Groton-Dunstable by propelling the program to its first back-to-back state championships, and career totals of 80 goals and 63 assists. He will suit up for Brown University next fall.

“He was a marked man,” Crusaders coach Sean Wisbey said of Pomeroy. “He had to fight through that, where every time you have the ball three guys are right there. It was a good learning experience for him. Obviously when he goes to play at Brown, he'll be marked.”

Steeves, heading to Providence College next year, was a dominant force in Needham’s run, which gave coach Don Brock his fourth state title in 46 years.

“It's so much harder to win one these days,” said the 76-year-old Brock, who stated he would be back to coach next year.

“We had to get six wins in about 10 days. It's unbelievable. Back in '68, only the first-place teams made it’’ into the post­season tournament, Brock said. “You only had to play three games or something.”

Leading Franklin to its first

Her legs move like wheels, her feet seem to be charged with gunpowder, and her vision is so spectacular she must have eyes on both sides of her head.

Kristi Kirshe is easily the best goal-scorer that Tom Geyson has seen in his 28 years coaching at Franklin High, he said. But he still can't believe one of the goals she scored against Nashoba Regional in the Panthers’ 2-1 win in the Division 1 girls’ state title game.

“She was actually falling away, with her body turned at a 45-degree angle, when she shot the ball,” he said. “The keeper was on the near post and the ball just bent inside, dinged off the far post, and went in. A fantastic individual effort.”

Had the game gone to penalty kicks, Kirshe would have been in goal, Geyson said. “Her quickness is unbelievable.”

The championship marked the first in program history, and Geyson said he's not yet sure whether he'll return to coach next year.

Perfect timing

Rich Daestrela might have set a record for substitutions in a season-opening high school soccer game.

There’s no way to check, but to shuffle almost 30 players in and out of an 80-minute game is some kind of chaos.

“It was pretty hectic,” he said. “I didn't even know who the players were.”

Daestrela took over the Weston High girls’ soccer team four days before their first game this fall, a situation that turned the match against Newton South into a tryout. Daestrela, who had never coached girls’ soccer before, after more than a decade in the boys’ coaching ranks, had to make cuts afterward.

After gaining a postseason berth with a 6-7-4 record, the Wildcats went on a six-game winning streak to capture the Division 3 state championship.

“Some of these girls I would have playing on my boys’ teams,” he said.

Skill when it’s needed

The Medfield girls' soccer team has gone 58-2-9 over a three-year span.

More than one or two things have gone right for coach ­Michael La Francesca . It can't always be seniors. Sure, Mimi Borkan was her usual dominant self between the pipes, and Katelyn Murray often required a few lines of defenders to keep her from scoring, but something else was needed.

This time it was junior Cami McCurdy who provided the spark by scoring six goals in the postseason, including two in Medfield’s 3-1 win over Belchertown that gave the Warriors their second Division 2 state ­title in three years.

“Just a great postseason run,’’ said La Francesca. “She had critical goals when we needed them.”

Overcoming doubt

They were left without their superstar, but the Acton-Boxborough Regional girls were still good enough to win a Division 1 field hockey title after all.

A Globe All-Scholastic last year as a sophomore, Allie Renzi left for the Holderness School this fall, a move that made sense for the talented defender but left the Colonials doubting themselves without her.

So they cranked up the sound on Taylor Swift's “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” but rewrote the words to make it “We Are Never Going To Lose Together,” and captured the school's third state title in six years with a 22-1-1 record.

“They had so much respect for [Renzi's] talent, they had to mentally overcome that loss,” said coach Mae Shoemaker . “They had a lot of doubts in the beginning of the season. But they were really out to prove something, and they did.”

Doing things right

Once in a while, Eileen Donahue can channel her inner niceness. She can throw aside her mental notebook of detailed adjustments that her Watertown High field hockey players must make, and simply tell them how good they really are.

Heading into the Division 2 state semifinals, with her team at 21-0 and riding an undefeated streak that has lasted more than four years, Donahue put on the inspirational cap.

“They hadn't been playing awesome, I wasn't going to lie,” said Donahue. “But I wanted to remind them what their record was. You must be doing something right to have that record, you might as well go out there and believe you’re a strong team. And they just started to believe in themselves.”

Watertown went on to win its fourth championship in as many years, giving Donahue 13 state titles in 27 years coaching the Red Raiders.

Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at jasonmastrodonato@yahoo.com.

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