[NOTE: The scoring for Watertown's goal was updated on Nov. 19]
Watertown's boys' soccer team has not done any favors to fans with heart conditions during its state tournament run. For the second straight state tournament game the Raiders took the game to a penalty shootout, and Wednesday night they won the shootout 5-3 over Dover-Sherborn to clinch a spot in the MIAA Div. 3 state final.
The teams played an even, up-tempo game of soccer for 80 minutes of regulation, after which the game was tied 1-1. Two 10-minute periods of sudden death overtime did not settle matters, either, and it came down to spot kicks 12 yards from the goalie.
Watertown (15-2-6) and Dover-Sherborn (17-6-1) both scored on their first shots, but in the second round Watertown's goalie saved the shot by Sean Forward. Watertown coach Frank Cacia said his goalie did it in the section final on Monday and he rose to the occasion again in Wendesday's state semifinal at Quincy's Veterans Stadium.
"He’s amazing, he just gets up for us," Cacia said. "He did it last round.... He has ice in his veins, he steps up in big situations."
Cacia said his team may have benefited from the shootout against Weston in the section final.
"It helps to have done it before," Cacia said. "It’s not good on the heart, but we’ll take it. We’re going to the state championship - it’s amazing."
Falling in the shootout was a tough way to end a successful season, said Dover-Sherbon coach Joe Gruseck. The team got to the state semifinal despite battling injuries to several players during the year.
"Through it, through thick and thin, these guys became family," Gruseck said. "They leaned on each other, they played for each other. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They stuck together, unfortunately the benefit didn’t come all the way in the way you would like it to."
Watertown got on the board with 15 minutes left in the first half, when junior Vardan Yeghiyan scored directly of a corner kick, which Dover-Sherborn goalie Max Dunn could not clear out of his net.
At halftime, Gruseck told his team they had played a half of "Watertown soccer," and now they needed to play a half of "Dover-Sherborn soccer."
Gruseck's team came out and scored 13 minutes into the second half. Dover-Sherborn junior Peter Burton curled a corner kick onto the net and the Watertown sweeper knocked the ball into the net by mistake.
Neither coach felt that their team played their typical game.
"They’re fast. I think they have us on overall team speed," Cacia said. "We just had to be physical out there. They took us out of our game but we also tried to take them out of their game."
The game got a bit rough, and players on both teams got yellow cards. Gruseck said that is not typical of Dover-Sherborn.
"As a team we need to be a little smarter and keep our heads," Gruseck said. "Chippy play came up, and that’s not our style. We allowed our heads to be taken out of it a little bit. We regrouped in the second half and we pushed the ball around, unfortunately we didn’t catch the break that we needed."
Cacia gave credit Dover-Sherborn, but said he is proud of his Watertown team making the state final.
"Our hearts go out to these guys (Dover-Sherborn)," Cacia said. "They’ve been here before, you can tell. We are first timers. It is truly truly amazing."
Watertown takes on Sutton in the state final on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Foley Stadium in Worcester.