CONCORD – Participating in the annual “Kicks for Cancer” football fundraiser at Concord-Carlisle High School is always a rewarding experience for everyone involved, but the Reading High boys’ football team had the added benefit of returning to second place in the Middlesex Liberty Division League table with a 2-1 triumph over Woburn on Saturday afternoon at White Field.
The Rockets scored a goal in the first half and another in the second, before withstanding a Tanners rally that nearly came to fruition.
Reading are now 4-2-0, while Woburn remain in search of their first victory of the season at 0-4-2.
“It was a sometimes ugly win, and sometimes we had to do what we had to do,” Reading coach Dan McGrath said. “To go out there and kill the game a bit.”
“Honestly, it was a pretty even game,” Woburn coach Roy Gomes said. “We pressed there late for the draw, but we keep making the same mistakes, technically. We’re struggling, we’re not making simple clearances, we’re not making simple passes.”
In addition to raffles and bake sales and other attractions for family and friends in attendance, players wore special t-shirts (blue for a team representing cancer affecting men and pink for cancers affecting men). women) who have a name on the back of a relative or someone in the players life who has battled the disease. Post-match team photos, front and back, have become a ritual.
Match-wise, Reading took a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute while enjoying a moment of confusion from the Woburn players. It appeared that a hand ball call was about to be made as the ball was in the middle of the Tanner side of the pitch. When the whistle didn’t sound, the Rockets went on, Shane Loughman sending a through ball to Nicolas Mirogiannis as he slipped through the defense and beat the goaltender with a right-footed shot.
Woburn’s best chance in the first half came when Tobi Petrakoski headed the ball from the crossbar over goalkeeper Leo Gosdanian.
Reading took a 2-0 lead in the 50th minute, on an odd play that started with a throw-in from the right touchline. There was little reaction to the throw, and Clay Chase took advantage and slid the ball inside the near post.
“The game was so close that one mistake costs you,” Gomes said. “Give them (Rockets) credit, they cornered it. We didn’t take our chances.”
The Tanners scored in the 60th minute, when centre-back Rocco Gomes struck a perfect free-kick from 30 yards out which went over Gosdanian’s reach and under the crossbar, cutting the lead in half, 2-1.
“It was a tough goal to give up on, I thought we were a little disorganized,” McGrath said. “We shouldn’t have allowed that to happen and we had plenty of chances to put the game away early and in the second half. Those are hard lessons to learn, but lessons you have to learn.”
Just after the goal, Woburn nearly leveled the score seconds later when Iyad Elbiz broke down the left side, only to have his bid go just wide of the left post.
Eventually, Gosdanian left with an injury and Tyler Alberto finished in goal for the Rockets, making two saves to preserve the win.
Reading had a few chances to add an insurance goal but were unable to do so, while the Tanners had a chance or an equalizer but were unsuccessful.
“I liked the way they fought back,” Gomes said. “They got their spirits back and almost came back. We had a great chance to equalize but Ayid narrowly missed the far post, but that’s how it is.”
Regardless of the end result, both teams were happy to be part of the festivities on what turned out to be a perfect fall day.
“It didn’t happen today for us, but the boys’ spirits went up,” Gomes said. “We came together today for a better purpose – not just for us as a team – playing for ‘Kicks for Cancer’ and the names on their backs.”
“On a day like today, we’re going to get a win and sit back and relax proud to be a part of it,” McGrath said. “We scored two good goals and we will take them.”