TAUNTON — Somerville and Silver Lake met on a frigid night at Taunton High School to battle for a spot in the Division 1 state tournament championship game.
The top two teams in Eastern Massachusetts provided a show for everyone in attendance, with Somerville’s quality in midfield topping previously unbeaten Silver Lake, 2-1.
While Somerville’s top scorer is senior Thayrone Miranda, it was midfielder Francisco Fernandes Neto who created Miranda’s opening goal.
In the 16th minute, Neto controlled a pass upfield from a teammate. He skillfully lobbed it over a charging Laker defender’s head.
Just as he was being closed down by the last defender behind the ball, Neto had the awareness to look up and find Miranda to his left with a pass.
Miranda took down the bouncing ball with one touch and fired his shot past Lakers senior goalkeeper Stephen MacSwain to give Somerville the lead.
In an open first half, Silver Lake had its share of chances. In the 33d minute, the Lakers finally capitalized.
After a long throw-in bounced around the box, Silver Lake junior Sean Hurlburt found senior Tim Barrow with a header.
Barrow put the ball past Somerville goalkeeper Luis Guerra and sent the two sides into the half level at 1.
Somerville (21-1-1) started the second half quickly, keeping possession and creating holes in Silver Lake’s defense.
The Highlanders’ work in the Silver Lake half of the field paid dividends. Six minutes into the second half, Somerville took a corner that bounced around in the box.
Forward Julio Lemus controlled the ball with his chest, moving past a Silver Lake defender, before firing his shot past MacSwain to give Somerville the 2-1 advantage.
From then on, the Highlanders absorbed waves of pressure from Silver Lake (21-1-1). The Lakers’ leading scorer, Paul Beatty, had difficulty finding space in the Somerville half.
The Lakers did find some chances late. Sophomore midfielder Adam Crawford took a shot from the edge of Somerville’s box with under five minutes remaining that Guerra had to stretch for.
Guerra just managed to tip Crawford’s shot over the bar.
Silver Lake’s central midfield struggled to stop Neto, who led Somerville’s midfield and was able to bump Lakers midfielders off the ball despite being the smallest player on the field.
“If someone from the other side is watching this game, they don’t realize that Thayrone’s the All-American,” said Somerville coach George Scarpelli.
“The heartbeat of this team is [Neto]. If you watched him play out there, he plays like he’s 7 feet tall.”
Scarpelli also believes his team has the belief that they can beat anyone.
“Our kids believe they’re the best team in the state,” said Scarpelli.