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Flyers use strong defense to reach D3 district finals

Jim Walker

WAVERLY — The defense was the difference, so now the district title is not such a distant possibility.
St. Joseph got the game’s only goal from Jared Johnson with an assist from Zach Roach as the Flyers beat the North Adams Green Devils 1-0 in the Division 3 district semifinals on Saturday.
“I’m so proud of our kids,” said Flyers’ coach Mike Balestra. “They all fight hard, they’ve all got great attitudes and they give all the effort they can.”
St. Joseph (15-3) will play No. 2-seed South Webster at 5 p.m. Thursday in the district finals at the Waverly downtown football stadium. The winner advances to the regional tournament.
The Flyers turned in a stellar defensive effort as goalkeeper Jimmy Mahlmeister had 12 saves as North Adams took 20 shots with 12 on goal.
“Defensively, I thought we played really well tonight,” said Balestra. “We preached to our kids about getting a head or body on the long goal kick and punts and we did that today.
“J.C. Damron, Andrew White, Michael Mahlmeister and Jared Johnson all played terrific. Our mids and front line played very well in maintaining possession and making nice passes to keep North Adams on the defensive. It was a great team effort.”
The Flyers had 11 shots with five on goal, 13 fouls, three yellow cards, two corner kicks and 14 free kicks.
North Adams was whistled for 14 fouls, two yellow cards, three corner kicks and 13 free kicks.
“This was a very good, physical game today and knew North Adams would give us a good game. Give North Adams credit,” said Balestra.
“They didn’t give up and fought hard. They played aggressive and really well tonight. I knew the turf field was going to be challenging for us for the type of soccer we like to play, but we’ll take playing on turf for the rest of the year.”