November 17, 2023 (updated 11/20/23)
• Rockets Football lost to Xaverian while Boys Soccer fell to Concord-Carlisle.
The sensational run by the 2023 Needham fall sports teams in the MIAA tournaments came to an end over the weekend, with the Rockets Football team dropping a close battle with Xaverian 20-17 from Brockton’s Rocky Marciano Stadium in the Division 1 Semifinals. One day later, the Rockets Boys Soccer team fell just short of a state title for the second year in a row, falling 2-0 to Concord-Carlisle in the D1 State Championship from Walpole High School.
While the soccer season is now over, Needham Football isn’t done yet, as they will now focus all their attention on Wellesley and the Oldest Public High School Football Rivalry in the Country on Thanksgiving. We will have much more on the game coming here on Needham Local, on needhamchannel.org and over the airwaves on The Needham Channel.
The weekend action started on Friday night, with Needham Football fighting until the end, getting back to within three points with five and a half minutes left in the game, but couldn’t force the Hawks to give the ball back. Xaverian advances to face rival St. John’s Prep in the MIAA Division 1 Super Bowl in two weekends at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. (In fact, the two teams are also Thanksgiving rivals and will play on Turkey Day in a warm up for the title game.)
Xaverian got the scoring started in the first quarter when they hit a 39 yard field goal a little more than five minutes into the first quarter. The Rockets answered with a drive that finished with a Tate Hoffmeister 13 yard touchdown run and also included a 34 yard completion from Needham Quarterback Griffin Carr to receiver Ben Schreiber. That put Needham on top 7-3 heading to the second quarter.
The Hawks got into the end zone for the first time with 4:57 left in the half, taking a 10-7 lead. Needham was able to put what looked like the final score of the half, a 28 yard field goal by Dante Varano that tied the score at 10 with 33 seconds until the break. However, the Hawks drove right down the field and hit a 32 yard field goal as time expired to go up 13-10 at halftime.
The third quarter was a defensive showdown, with both teams shutting the door on any scoring until late, as Xaverian scored a TD with just 48 seconds remaining. Despite a double digit deficit, the Rockets kept fighting and scored on a 13 yard passing touchdown from Carr to Spencer Chapman with 5:26 left.
Unfortunately Needham would fail to shut down Xaverian’s offense on several opportunities, thus never getting the ball back on offense after the touchdown. Although Aidan Williams had a big game on the ground for the Rockets, with 9 carries for 74 yards, it was a rough game for Hoffmeister. The Senior Running Back, who had numerous games of not only over 100 yards rushing, but sometimes over 200, was held to just 16 carries for 36 yards and the one TD. Needham would finish with 142 yards rushing, to go along with 102 yards passing on 6-11 completions and the one TD for Carr.
On Saturday night, the Needham Boys Soccer team faced off with the Patriots in the Rockets’ third state title game appearance in the last four played seasons. (Needham fell to Longmeadow in 2019 and St. John’s Prep in 2022. There was no playoff in 2020 due to Covid-19.) Bay State Conference rival Walpole High School hosted the game, as well as the Division 1 Girls Final right before (and was won by another BSC rival, Natick).
Concord-Carlisle, the #1 seed to Needham’s #2, got to Needham keeper Max Glazer early, as Sean Fernandez-Davila scored in the sixth minute of the game.
Both teams had chances the rest of the first half to try and score, but no one did. So the Patriots took their 1-0 lead to halftime.
Early in the second half, Concord-Carlisle had another chance to get on the board, but failed. About four minutes in, Glazer was drawn out of the net, but Jonathan Ross knocked a shot away, then Glazer got back into position to make a fabulous save on a shot by Benedict Bury.
The Patriots, however, would find another opportunity and this time didn’t miss. Brady Poor took a free kick, booting it long and perfectly, sailing into the Needham net. C-C took a 2-0 lead with just 13:22 left and held off the Rockets to win the state title.
TNC Sports Producer Kristen Connors has highlights from both games here: