LYNN - Two years ago, under the same Manning Field lights, in the same EMass final, the Concord-Carlisle boys’ soccer team defeated Sandwich, 1-0, on its way to the first of back-to-back Division 2 state titles.
And last night, the Patriots were able to thwart the Blue Knights once again, winning, 2-1, in the EMass final to give themselves another shot at defending their state crown.
The Blue Knights carried the early momentum, and after two shots were handled by Patriots keeper Cray Novick, Dallas Donovan made sure his third counted, shaking a defender at the top of the box and unloading to put the Blue Knights up, 1-0, at the 17-minute mark.
As the first half was winding down, with the Patriots applying some pressure of their own, Mikey O’Brien found Ethan Atwood on the left side of the box, and he let loose with a shot that Sandwich keeper Kyle Van Cleef got a fingertip on - but not enough to push the ball high.
The shot sneaked in under the crossbar to tie the game at 1.
“That changed the demeanor of the game,’’ said Concord-Carlisle coach Ray Pavlik. “We came in at halftime with a lot of confidence and feeling like, ‘All right, this is ours.’ ’’
Concord-Carlisle kept the momentum to start the second half, and just eight minutes in, it took a 2-1 lead when Scott Brazina picked up a bouncing ball in the box and headed it in.
“Zach Bloom had a great thrown-in, then it bounced through some guys, I got in there and it just found my head,’’ said Brazina. “It was huge because then we could settle down a little bit and work more on what we set out to do, like possess the ball.’’
Brazina played another key role in the victory, along with captain Christopher Walker-Jacks, as they helped to shut down Sandwich’s 1-2 punch of Peter Alvarenga and Donovan, limiting their touches in the second half and neutralizing them on the outside.
After losing 15 players from last year’s squad and returning only two starters, the Patriots will play for their third consecutive Division 2 state title Saturday at Worcester State versus Groton-Dunstable.
“We said all year, ‘We’re young, and no matter what, if we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down swinging,’ ’’ said Pavlik.
“It’s wonderful to be in this position.’’