Lowell Holds Off Chelmsford This Time
CHELMSFORD -- Bill Bettencourt knew his team was capable of beating a top-notch opponent. He just had to see them do it.
On Tuesday night, he saw them do it.
In a game the Red Raiders had to have, the Lowell High boys soccer team delivered an impressive 3-1 victory on the road against Merrimack Valley Conference power Chelmsford.
The win improved Lowell’s record to 7-6-3 with two regular season games remaining and the state tournament just around the corner.
“It’s a big win for us, we needed three points to qualify for the states,” said Bettencourt. “They proved to me that they can play the game when everybody is healthy and everybody wants to play to their level. They showed that here tonight.”
Chelmsford (12-2-3) has been one of the best teams in Eastern Mass. so far this fall. The Lions won in Lowell, 3-2, earlier in the season. But on Tuesday night, the Red Raiders wouldn’t be denied.
Lowell never trailed in the contest and snapped what was a 1-1 tie at the half with a pair of second-half goals from senior midfielder and captain George Zuleta.
A Chelmsford handball in the box off a Lowell throw-in gave the Red Raiders a penalty kick in the 49th minute. Zuleta’s PK was saved on a brilliant effort by Lions’ goalkeeper James Hartshorn (six saves). However, Zuleta quickly followed up on the rebound and drilled it into the net for a 2-1 lead.
With 17:55 left in the game, Zuleta added some insurance. He flicked in a corner kick from senior Poe Reh, as Hartshorn never had a chance to make the save.
That was the backbreaker, as Chelmsford promptly called a timeout.
“It was pretty huge. We have two more games left and we needed three more points, and we got a big two points today,” said Zuleta. “We’ve been putting up fights all season with all these great teams and we just couldn’t finish it at the end. It’s about time we put a full 80 minutes together.”
Lowell jumped on top with a goal in the fourth minute. Senior striker Vinicius Silochi stole the ball in the Chelmsford backfield and broke in and beat Hartshorn with a low shot.
The Lions evened things up in the 14th minute when senior captain Josh Ofosu took a feed from senior Elias Parreira and buried a shot past Lowell keeper Edgar Delannoy. From there, neither team had a great scoring chance the rest of the way in the first half.
Delannoy made eight saves in the contest and shined in the second half, particularly in the final 10 minutes when Chelmsford was furiously peppering the goal area.
“Last time we played these guys, we were up 2-0 and they came back and beat us,” said Bettencourt. “Getting that third goal was huge for us, and then to finish it off.”
Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone