Pembroke football moves to state final

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WALPOLE – Adam Scott could only scoff, insisting his players needed no more motivation before they met the top seed in the Division 3 Final Four.

You can never have too much, though, especially this time of year.

One pregame text did just the trick. Scott, who is in his ninth season at the helm of the Pembroke High boys soccer team, received a message from legendary United States Men’s National Team forward Clint Dempsey, who recorded a video wishing the Titans luck ahead of Tuesday’s game.

The link comes from Mike Cogburn, a local friend of the program who is involved in the community-based coalition, Titans Against Drugs.

“I think he’s the greatest American player of all time,” Scott said of Dempsey. “These are things you just laugh at. Pinch me because I can’t believe this is happening.”

Dempsey’s shout was just the Titans’ first ‘pinch me’ moment of the evening. A crucial defensive stand by senior goalkeeper Jack Eva in the final minute kept No. 4 Pembroke 2-1 knocking off top-seeded Oakmont at Walpole High, giving the Titans advance to first ever state final appearance.

Pembroke (18-2-1) will face No. 3 Norwell on Saturday for the title. Date and place, to be announced.

“We talked about making history tonight,” Scott said.

“It feels like a dream,” senior forward Wil McManus said of moving on. “We had hundreds of fans here. It is unbelievable. We have been working for this, at least for me, all my life. We have been grinding this year. We had some struggles early on, but we figured it out. Now we are here.”

More: Double crowns within reach: Norwell boys, girls soccer advance to Div. 3 state finals

Pembroke got on the board in the opening minute, specifically 28 seconds into the game, as young forward Colin Blake got over a well-struck boot into the net and slotted it over Oakmont defensive unit: “If you were writing how to start a game, that’s definitely how you’d do it,” Scott said with a laugh.

The Titans took a one-goal lead into the half, and built on it in the 56th minute when league MVP Matt McAuliffe’s acrobatic header found the back of the net off a corner kick.

Oakmont (19-3) got a goal back in stoppage time to cut Pembroke’s lead in half, but a diving attempt by Eva stopped a potential tie in the waning moments . After making the save, time expired as Eva, with the ball in her hands, shook the Pembroke midfielders to push upfield.

“I trust Jack completely,” McManus said. “Our back line dominated the whole game. We slipped up a bit, but I didn’t care. “

Pembroke's Matt McAuliffe celebrates a goal during the Final Four game against Oakmont at Walpole High School on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023.

Pembroke’s Matt McAuliffe celebrates a goal during the Final Four game against Oakmont at Walpole High School on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023.

“We knew they weren’t going to go away,” Scott said. “Oakmont, they’re a good team. They were there until the end and made it very interesting for us in the last 10 seconds of the game.”

Pembroke, coming into this season, was hit hard by graduation after being eliminated by Newburyport in the quarterfinals last year. The team lost starting goaltender Jack Taylor, and a combined total of more than 100 points between the steady core of Andrew Gleason, Declan Crowley and Ethan Sullivan who were instrumental in snapping the team’s regular season winning streak. 40 that ended with a loss to Hingham on Oct. 10.

“If you told me we’d lose the guys we lost – who were amazing players, people and leaders – and come back here to make it further, I couldn’t be more happy,” Scott said. It’s not me as a coach or magical fairy dust I put on the boys, it’s them. Children have this quality that they want to achieve more. They are not happy with where we were. They want to break barriers.”

Conflict for him with the defense camp, and next door neighbor, Norwell where it all goes up.

“That’s the next task,” Scott said. “Can you win another one? Can you go again? I will be behind these boys as much as possible because I feel like they can. “

This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Pembroke boys soccer beats Oakmont, earns first in nation

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