Following 100 minutes of scoreless soccer, Medway boys’ coach Jeff Hallenbeck knew his team had the edge in the impending shootout against Medfield.
“Our goalie [Brian Kokoszka] is extremely good, he reads the ball very well,” Hallenbeck said. “Plus, I scouted them when they had their shootout against Westwood, so I had all their players written down in my book, including which way they go.”
Hallenbeck’s scouting and Kokoszka’s reflexes proved to be the difference for the Mustangs, who won Monday’s Division 2 South final at Tiger Alexio Stadium in Taunton with a 3-1 decision in penalty kicks.
The 10th-seeded Warriors (12-6-4) got a diving save from goalkeeper Remy Fragola on the opening penalty kick, but Kokoszka responded with a save.
“I was a little nervous, but once I got the first one down, I was fine, in the zone,” Kokoszka said. “I knew my teammates were going to help me, so once I saved it, they did the rest of the work.”
A trio of seniors found the net for the top-seeded Mustangs (18-3-1), as Johnny Aviza, Mike Barry, and Dan Messina all buried their kicks. Medfield’s Jack Keleher sneaked one under the crossbar to make it 3-1 through seven shooters, but Kokoszka sealed the victory by stuffing Griffin Brown.
This was the third meeting this season between the Tri-Valley League foes, with the Warriors earning a 1-0 win Sept. 18 and the squads playing to a 1-1 draw Oct. 17.
“The TVL is a very strong league across the board,” Hallenbeck said. “I think that helps everyone in the TVL because when you get to tournament time, every game we play all regular season is just like a playoff game, so it helps us out. I’ll give credit to Medfield, they’re a very, very strong team.”
Medway nearly grabbed a quick lead as Barry hit the crossbar less than three minutes in. Medfield returned the favor 18 seconds into the second half when Paul Fischer hit the bar. Each goalkeeper made six saves prior to the penalty kicks.
The Mustangs will play North Andover Wednesday night at Braintree High School in the Division 2 EMass final.
Division 3 North — When two overtimes were not enough to decide the sectional final, Watertown’s Vardan Yeghiyan had to make the long walk from midfield to the penalty mark 12 yards from Weston goalie Mark Fishman.
Calm and cool, he shot low left and delivered a 5-3 shootout victory for the Red Raiders (14-2-6), who played the Wildcats (12-5-3) to a 1-1 regulation stalemate at Manning Field in Lynn.
“I was thinking about my coach’s face,” said Yeghiyan on his thoughts as he approached the big kick. “I was thinking about my teammates and the summer and all that hard work. It all paid off today.”
Watertown’s Cody Hecht came up with a big defensive stop on the only major scoring chance in the first half, stopping Andrew Bromfield, who led four Wildcats on a breakout attack.
The Red Raiders picked up the pace in the second half, leading to the game’s first goal. Juan Nieto-Lopez slung a pass across the crease to James Kapotsis, who buried it at the 18-minute mark.
Two minutes later, the Wildcats responded when Chason Timko found Bromfield in traffic, knotting the game with 20 minutes to play.
Watertown keeper Greg Koutroukas (five saves) came up with the only stop in the shootout to put his team in prime position for the victory.
“It’s been a long time,” said Watertown coach Frank Cacia. “These boys worked hard for two-plus hours every single morning. They deserve this.”
It was the first time since 1982 that the Red Raiders have captured a tournament title. Watertown will face Dover-Sherborn Wednesday night at Veterans Stadium in Quincy for the Division 3 EMass title.