LYNN — For four years Concord-Carlisle has been locked into a mid-November date in the Division 2 North title game, winning the past three.
On Monday at Manning Field, however, eighth-ranked North Andover put an end to the Patriots’ dynastic run, winning, 3-1, to set up a date with Medway in the EMass final Wednesday night.
“We’re banged up,” said North Andover coach Bill Tarbox. “I didn’t expect that we would do this. We subbed at the right time, we made things happen at the right time and hopefully we will continue to do that.”
Because of injury, the Scarlet Knights were forced to give freshman keeper Paul DeMaio his first start, and despite the daunting task of facing the three-time defending champions, he stood his ground, making five saves to earn the victory.
“It was pretty nerve-racking,” DeMaio said. “Right after the game started that kind of all left. This team is great, so I had a lot of confidence.”
North Andover (18-2-2) started the scoring in the 17th minute when Andrew Valdes followed an Evan Dudney shot, blasting the rebound past Concord-Carlisle keeper Cray Novick (four saves).
At the 24-minute mark the Patriots (14-3-2) evened things when captain Gregoire Fauchet rose above a crowd in front of DeMaio to head home a corner kick from Wyatt Powell.
The Scarlet Knights gathered in front of Novick late in the first half, and as the ball bounded around John Enright headed a pass to Michael Skarbelis, who headed it home for a 2-1 lead.
“I was waiting in the box,” Skarbelis said. “I knew it was going to be a tight game and we couldn’t waste any opportunities.”
As the second half wore on, the Patriots found themselves desperately trying to force their way into the North Andover end to set things up, but the Scarlet Knights defense continued to come up with big stops, including a sliding clear in the box by Enright with 10 minutes left.
With less than two minutes to play and a set piece from 35 yards, the Patriots brought Novick, a former midfielder, up on the attack.
The plan backfired when the initial blast was blocked by a wall of Knights and the carom got past Novick. Dudney outraced him to the ball and with nothing but daylight ahead eased home an empty-net goal.
Following the celebration, Concord-Carlisle’s Stowe Simonton and North Andover’s Alexander Tustin were booked with red cards and ejected from the game for having a heated confrontation. Tustin will be unable to participate in Wednesday’s game.
Tarbox is in his 22d and final season of coaching. “It’s nice to go out as we have,” he said. “I’d like to keep going.”
It was the Scarlet Knights’ first appearance in the sectional title game since 2000 and their first title since 1999.