Two evenly matched teams came into the North Section final Monday evening, and 100 minutes of soccer could not separate Watertown and Weston, so the game came down to penalty kicks. The Raiders grabbed the trophy after taking the game 5-3 on penalties.
For the No. 6 seed Raiders (14-2-6) , the win means the farthest the team has advanced in the state tournament in recent memory, while the No. 8 Wildcats’ (12-5-3) season ended in heart wrenching fashion.
Watertown coach Frank Cacia received two honors Monday, but one stood out.
“It means everything. They notified me that I got Eastern Mass coach of the year and I told them that did not want to take the trophy and that I would trade it in for a North Sectional championship trophy,” Cacia said.
Losing on a penalty shootout was a bitter pill to swallow for Weston coach Thomas McEnery.
“We were in it for the whole game, it was just heartbreaking to go out on penalties, to be honest,” McEnery said. “You can’t fault the boys, you cannot fault their effort.”
Watertown started well, and junior midfielder James Kapotsis beat the goalie nearside after getting a crossing pass from a teammate with 22 minutes left in the first half.
Weston did not sit back, however, and nearly scored a minute later. The next attack, the Wildcats’ Andrew Bromfield made the score 1-1 with 20 minutes left in the first half.
The teams battled during the second half, and Watertown hit the post once, and appeared to score the go ahead goal, but the referee ruled the Raiders were offside. Cacia said he was proud that his team kept fighting.
“They didn’t get down on themselves when they thought they scored the winning goal,” Cacia said. “They said it was offsides, and I’m not going to question the officials.”
In overtime, Weston had its chances, including a free kick that Watertown goalie Greg Koutroukas stopped, but let dribble free, and he made a second save on a point-blank shot.
Each side had quality scoring chances before the end of overtime, but neither could end the game.
In the penalty shootout, both teams made their first shot, but Koutoukas saved Weston’s second shot, taken by Sam Cekala.
With the goal advantage, striker Vardan Yeghiyan buried the Raiders’ fifth shot, clinching the section title for Watertown.
Both coaches said they struggled to play their typical game.
“Maybe at times we didn’t keep our composure as well as we could have,” Weston’s McEnery said. “We could have kept the ball on the ground like we have been for the year, but in a game like that where they were putting us under pressure it was very hard.”
Cacia said he would have liked his team to play a more open style, but Weston would not let them.
“They didn’t let us play our game,” Cacia said. “We like to knock the ball around and move it around the pitch. We’re a ball possession team. They are just big boys, Weston is. They made an incredible run.”
Watertown moves on to the state semifinal on Wednesday against South Section champion Dover-Sherborn. The game is at 7:30 p.m. at Quincy’s Veterans Stadium.