Needham girls' soccer making strides against cancer

NEEDHAM, Mass. – At halftime of Thursday night’s Needham High girls’ soccer match with Bay State Conference rival Braintree at Memorial Field, the Rockets were honored for their contributions to the American Cancer Society. By the end of Thursday’s game, Needham had raised more than $25,000 for breast cancer research.

Head coach Carl Tarabelli and his captains Kyra White, Alanna Bollas, and Kira Oberle, were joined on the field by members of the junior varsity and freshman teams, each wearing a pink American Cancer Society t-shirt. All told, 62 girls across all three levels of the program garnered more than 600 sponsors that gave money for each shutout by the Rockets and for each Needham goal.

Tarabelli explained, “We thought about doing a ‘Pink Night’ and they just wanted to do something more than a ‘Pink Night.’ It started out with let’s do something for the entire season and then it was let’s include the whole program. It’s incredible and I’m really proud of them.”

Kiera Evans of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, a program of the American Cancer Society, praised the Needham High program and the community for its support of breast cancer research. She was thrilled to be able to publicly thank the Rockets for their efforts.

“We wanted to make sure everybody understood that we are so proud of what they’re doing in the community and just the support that they are giving to us,” said Evans. “Especially since this is a great recognition night for the seniors, since those seniors have led them in fundraising this season.”

She continued, “Through the success of their season, they are just under $25,000, which is one of our most successful high schools this year. So, we wanted to make sure that the girls knew how much we appreciated what they have done for us this season.”

Needham scored three times and held a clean sheet on Thursday to bring the total over the $25,000 mark and Tarabelli noted that the team still has three games on Monday against Newton North and a potential long tournament run that could add to that total.

He remarked, “The meter is running every time that we score a goal or get a shutout. In my wildest dreams, I never thought that we would get to $25,000. I’m really proud of the girls and I’m really proud of the captains for thinking of it.”

“It’s what these kids are all about. They do this all the time; they’re a good group.”

According to Evans, the dollars raised by Needham girls’ soccer will benefit several programs that are run by the American Cancer Society. The examples that she gave included Road to Recovery, which provides free transportation for cancer patients to their treatments, the Hope Lodge of Boston, which provides housing for patients that travel more than 50 miles to receive treatment, as well as several grants and research.

Evans hopes to see this become an example for other teams. She said with a laugh, “Hopefully they continue to grow and make a little competition between teams next year.”

Oberle leads Rockets to Senior Night victory

In the game, Needham (10-1-6) got two goals from Oberle and one from sophomore Kathleen Rizzo to win 3-0. The result was Needham’s fourth win in a row and ran the Rockets unbeaten streak to 14 games.

Rizzo opened the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half. The sophomore collected the ball about 25 yards from goal, sidestepped a defender and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner. It was the type of goal that the Rockets needed against the stout back line of the Wamps (6-7-4).

Oberle doubled the lead on a shot from inside the box before just minutes later making it 3-0. The second came after a good move down the Needham left by sophomore Rachel Kingston, who only recently returned from injury. Her pass into the middle was only half-cleared by the Braintree central defender and Oberle hit the shot first time into the side-netting, giving the keeper no chance.

Tarabelli was impressed by the offensive production that his team has finally found. That is 14 goals in the past three games for Needham, after scoring only 17 through the opening 12 matches.

“They don’t give up goals, so for us to get three…with all our injuries to our key strikers we were playing with people that weren’t scoring. It’s coming on at the right time.”

Needham finishes the regular season on Monday against Newton North, which is currently No. 2 in the ESPNBoston.com statewide rankings.