Watertown's magical run through the MIAA Div. 3 boys soccer tournament came up just short as the Raiders could not hold on to an early 1-0 lead and fell to Sutton in the state final, Saturday at Foley Stadium in Worcester.
Despite the loss, Watetown coach Frank Cacia said the team accomplished more than any previous Raiders squad.
"Give (Sutton) a lot of credit. They’ve been here before," Cacia said. "We scored the first goal, we didn’t lay down. I’m proud of the boys. It was an incredible run. I’m sure if I told them at the beginning of the year we would get to the state final they would tell me I was crazy."
Before this year, the farthest the Raiders had advanced was the state semifinal.
The Raiders (15-3-6) took a 1-0 lead when junior James Garbier headed in a corner kick 17 minutes into the first half.
The lead was short lived, however. The Sammies (20-1-1) responded two minutes later with a goal of their own. Cacia said Sutton took advantage of a defensive lapse by the Raiders.
Justin Rothermich beat the defenders and Watertown goalie Greg Kotroukas to a ball, went around the goalie - who had come out of the box to play the ball - and easily put the ball into the net.
In the second half, the Raiders came out hot, but could not convert the pressure into a goal.
"The first 10 minutes of the second half we took it to them, we just couldn’t create enough chances," Cacia said. "It’s not about ball possession. You have to gain real estate and finish out opportunities when you have a team on the ropes, like that."
Sutton's go ahead goal came off a good opportunity by the Raiders. Watertown had a corner kick, but the Sammies cleared it out and Rothermich took it all the way down the field, and Koutroukas made the first save, but Kevin Rothermich booted the rebound into the Watertown goal with 15 minutes left in the game.
"They are a classic counter attack team," Cacia said. "They are not going to provide constant pressure on a team, but when they do it’s dangerous."
Cacia said he has hopes for his young team, which only played three seniors. He hopes Saturday's loss will motivate his team next year.
"You just have to take away the experience of being here," Cacia said. "The dedication and hard work it took through out the year to get here. The result (in the final) is motivation is to get one more step further next year."