LYNN — There’s yet to be a defense this season that could stop the top-seeded St. John’s Prep attacking trio of Mitch Collins, Brian Brennan, and Steven Yakita, and 13th-seeded Framingham was no different. All three seniors scored off set pieces in a 3-1 rout in the Division 1 North boys’ soccer semifinal on Tuesday at Manning Field.
The Eagles (17-0-3) controlled possession throughout the match, and created periodic chances both in transition and from set pieces. The first tally came off a short corner in the 23rd minute. Brennan rolled the ball in to Collins, and after trading passes, Collins swung around to the top right corner of the 18-yard box. He struck a beauty to the near post for the lone first half tally.
“We spend a lot of time working on [set pieces], and it paid huge dividends for us in the end,” said Prep coach David Crowell. “I couldn’t be happier.”
After the Flyers conceded another corner — one of eight for the match — Brennan struck a bending ball in towards the far post. Instead of being met with a head, the ball nestled into the side netting for a stunner of a second goal. It was his second such goal of the season after doing the same thing moments into the season opener.
With momentum in Prep’s favor, Framingham got a lucky bounce in the 68th minute. After a ball bounced unusually high on the slick turf inside the penalty area, it struck the arm of a Prep defender for a penalty kick. Framingham senior Nick Bernardi finished right as Prep keeper Christian Buckley went left.
A minute later, however, Prep put in the dagger. Following a clumsy Framingham tackle in the attacking third, Yakita added his goal, a bending 21-yard free kick right over the wall to the left side of the net.
Even after taking just a one-goal lead into the half, the Eagles felt confident sticking with their gameplan.
“We didn’t really change a lot,” said Crowell. “I felt that we were on the front foot in the first half. And when we are on the front foot we don’t do a lot to change things. We feel that teams have to adjust to us, we don’t adjust to them.”
The match ended abruptly in the 76th minute after Framingham recorded its fourth yellow card.
The win sends Prep to Saturday’s final in Lynn. They’ll face the winner of tomorrow’s matchup between No. 2 Somerville and No. 14 Brookline.Logan Mullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ByLoganMullen