Newton North “exorcised some demons,” as coach Roy Dow put it, by beating visiting Boston Latin, 4-0, Sunday afternoon in the Division 1 North boys’ soccer tournament.
In each of the last two years, Newton North lost its first tournament game. Last year, the Tigers lost at home to Brookline in penalty kicks. This year, the Tigers (8-6-5) completely smothered their opponent — Latin recorded just one shot on goal. North next plays East Boston (16-2) on Tuesday.
“This conversation this year is a lot different than it was last year for sure,” Dow said after the game. “Hopefully we can see this playoff win into more and we’ve just got the ball rolling.”
The Tigers (8-6-5) set the tone by keeping the ball out of their own end for virtually the entire first half. They opened the scoring in the 21st minute on a solid strike from senior midfielder Francesco Campione low inside the left post.
After halftime, North ratcheted up the pressure and tacked on three goals en route to an unstressful victory to open the playoffs. Dow said they made adjustments to rotate the ball quicker to the outside after halftime, making Latin (7-9-3) chase more.
The strategy worked: senior defender Grayson Hargens scored off a corner in the 54th minute, senior forward John Shore buried one from the right side in the 57th minute, and senior forward Matt Nielsen capped it off with a point-blank shot in the 74th minute.
The most striking characteristic of the game, though, was North’s ability to keep Latin from mounting any kind of offensive attack.
“We were just the more aggressive team,” said Hargens, who was on the team for both of the recent first-round losses. “We were beating them to balls. Our back line’s been strong the whole season, even if our record doesn’t show that.
“It feels really awesome to get to keep going.” he added.
Division 3 Central
Northbridge 3, Quabbin 2 — The Rams (9-8-2) were shut out in the first half before ultimately prevailing in penalty kicks. Senior Codey Battista tied the match at 1-1 midway through the second. The Panthers (8-8-1) scored with just under five minutes remaining and looked to have the game sealed, but Battista came through again three minutes later, this time curling a direct free kick to the upper left corner from just outside the box. Battista and Chris Rivelli, who drew the foul that led to Battista’s late goal, knocked home the first two PKs in short order, but it was senior defender Kevin Pierce who cleared the benches with a sharp line drive to the bottom right corner that froze the keeper.
Division 2 South
Oliver Ames 6, Greater New Bedford 2 — Junior Kevin Louhis scored twice for the Tigers (14-3) in their first-round win. Oliver Ames plays the Somerset Berkley/North Attleborough winner in the quarterfinals.
Division 4 South
Millis 2, Rising Tide Charter 0 — Junior Jeremy Dwarika and sophomore Ben Pudelka scored for the Mohawks (4-15) in their preliminary-round victory over the Herons (8-9-2).
Division 2 North
Lynnfield 1, Manchester Essex 0 — Junior Maddy Murphy scored the winner for the Pioneers (14-4) with 1:34 remaining in the game, propelling Lynnfield to a quarterfinal win over the Hornets (11-4-2). Junior Ava O'Brien made nine saves for the shutout.
Division 2 South
Dover-Sherborn 2, Hanover 1 — Behind first-half goals from senior Abby Gramer and junior Emma Goodness, the Raiders (17-1-2) earned the quarterfinal victory over the Indians (13-4-2).
Division 3 North
Hamilton-Wenham 2, Bedford 1 — The No. 19 Generals (8-5-5) upset the 14th-seeded Buccaneers (10-7-2) in the preliminary round, surviving in a 5-4 penalty shootout. Midway through the second half, Hamilton-Wenham’s Klaudia Rushi scored from 10 yards out to force overtime. Senior captain and defender Maddy Rivers’s netted the winner in the fifth round of the shootout. Hamilton-Wenham will face Austin Prep in the first round on Tuesday.
Division 4 North
Winthrop 2, Mystic Valley 1 — Sophomore Mia Martucci scored for the Vikings (11-8) midway through the first half and Maura Dorr buried the winner in the second overtime. The Vikings visit top seed Amesbury at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday.
Division 2 South
Apponequet 3, Milton 1 — Seniors Liz Anderson and Rachel Balboni scored early to give the Lakers (9-7-1) a 2-0 lead at halftime, and sophomore Devin Sylvia added insurance in the second half. Head coach Robin Ireland said the win was ‘‘all because of the defense,’’ as the Wildcats could only muster four shots on goal.