LYNN – Before Saturday’s MIAA Div. 3 boys soccer state final, Newburyport coach Sean Bleau figured his team’s game with Dedham might come down to penalty kicks.
Neither penalty kicks nor extra time was necessary for the Clippers, who prevailed, 1-0 at Manning Field.
For Newburyport (23-0) it was the school’s first boys soccer state title.
“We’ve never even scored a goal in the quarterfinals before this,” Bleau said. “This group when they were 6, 7, 8, 9 years old did their club tournaments and they all stayed together. They didn’t go off to other schools and we had two kids come back this year.”
The Clippers scored the game’s only goal in the 65th minute, when senior Graydon Conly knocked in a shot from right in front of the goal during a scramble following a throw-in from the right.
“It just came off my foot,” Conly said. “The ball was just knocking around, Nolan (Smith) gave me a little pass and I chipped it in.”
Said Bleau, “We wanted to get the ball in the air and pressure their keeper. In the first half, we were a little back on our heels. We were more aggressive in the second half.”
Two minutes after Conly’s goal, the Clippers had a chance to add to their lead when James Forrest-Hay took a direct kick from 20 yards out that was just off the mark. Dedham defender Michael McDonough also stopped another scoring chance in the 71st minute.
Dedham had its best chances in the early minutes of the game, when Alex Kadelliu took a direct kick that Newburyport keeper Owen Tahnk saved. Kadelliu took another direct kick early in the the game, but the Newburyport defense kept it from getting to the goal.
“We knew Dedham was well-organized and had good skills,” Bleau said. “We knew they had a good defense, but their offense was even better than we thought.”
Tahnk saved two shots for the Clippers, who placed seven shots on goal. Luke O’Brien and Forrest-Hay had scoring chances for Newburyport in the first half, but after 40 minutes there was still no score.