By Nick French
WORCESTER -- It seemed like just a matter of time before the Concord-Carlisle soccer team would break through and score a goal.
Finally, after 69 minutes of peppering the net, a fortunate bounce and the opportunism of Will Toczylowski, the Patriots captured the goal they needed to win the Division 2 soccer state championship 1-0 over Palmer.
"It was a scramble and I just dove for it and luckily it went in," Toczylowski said. "This is the greatest feeling of my life."
The Patriots came right out of the gate attacking and putting pressure on the Palmer defense. Junior Alex Puchrik controlled the ball in the middle and either found teammates for scoring chances or rifled a shot of his own, but the Patriots had nothing to show for it and frustration was settling in.
"The message at halftime was relax, have patience and believe its going to come," said C-C head coach Ray Pavlik. "The irony is you can shoot and shoot and it's some scrappy goal at the end that gets it."
Palmer packed its defense into the box, but the play of goalkeeper Steve Swiatlowski was keeping the Panthers in the game. The senior had 15 shutouts coming into the game and practically stood on his head in the second half.
A header by C-C's Ben Droz was stopped by a diving Swiatlowski (13 saves) and another point blank shot by Toczylowsky was stoned.
But as is often the case in these games it was a scramble in the box that netted the lone goal.
"That was the best game he played all year, and that's what you need in the state finals," Palmer coach Carlos Batista said.
A corner kick by Sam Atwood was launched into a pack in the box, where the ball squirted loose. Swiatlowski came out and challenged with a slide but Toczylowski was able to get a foot on it and tap home the eventual game winner with just 11:54 remaining in the game.
"They were just fortunate to get the ball before we did," Batista said. "It wasn't the prettiest goal, but they all count."
Palmer really didn't manage any form of offensive attack all night and couldn't muster anything over the final minutes. The Patriots won the state championship again for the second time in three years despite being a completely different team.
"It's a complete reload from 2006 which says something about the program," Pavlik said. "To take another whole group of kids three years apart is pretty special."
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