WORCESTER, Mass -- The Ludlow Lions are back-to-back Division 1 boys soccer state champions, after a 2-1 victory over the Mascnomet Chieftains to claim their 17th title.
“It never gets old,” Lions head coach Greg Kolodziey said. “It’s a new group of kids every year, new families, they want to go through the experience and we try to get them here.”
Ludlow (17-2-4) found themselves trailing after 48 minutes when Masconomet (17-4-3) midfielder Chad Burke lofted a free kick into the Lions box from around 45 yards out and Charles Sherman met the cross and flicked his header over Ludlow keeper Nicholas Zucco’s and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
In the 58th minute, Masconomet sophomore Stephen Pease burst into the box but was met by a host of Ludlow defenders. Pease looked like he may have had a penalty claim on the play, but the ball rolled out for a Masco corner, which they almost turned into their second goal. Burke took the Chieftains corner kick and played another beautiful ball into a dangerous area, but this time Zucco was able to cut out the danger with a strong a catch in traffic.
Two minutes later, the score was level. Ludlow junior forward Kyle Tomas found himself with plenty of room to get a shot off from 30 yards out on an angle, and his strike hit the top right side of the net for the equalizer.
Each side had an opportunity to take the lead in the final 15 minutes. Ludlow’s came in the 67th minute on a well struck Brandon McCarty shot that whistled just wide of the right post. Masconomet’s chance came in the 72nd minute when Sherman smashed a low and inviting cross in the space between Ludlow’s back line and their goal. The shot took a deflection and forced a reaction save from Zucco, truly a game changing play.
“It was just instinct,” Zucco said of his save. “After we made that save, I knew we were winning. There was no way we could be stopped.”
Ludlow’s game-winning goal came in the 84th minute, and again it was Tomas with the finish. Luke Woishnis threw the ball in to teammate Jeff Danek near the Masconomet end line. Danek fired a cross directly across Chieftains' six-yard box, where Tomas was already mid slide, feet first, to tap in the goal that gave Ludlow the title.
“I knew he was going to send it through,” said Tomas of Danek’s playmaking cross. “We practice it every day at practice, just sending balls in and I knew it was coming, I got ready for it and got a foot on there and it went into the back of the net.”
“We had to have a big turnaround at halftime,” coach Kolodziey said of Ludlow’s second half performance. “They were taking it to us, we were a little bit lazy and careless with the ball. We had to just step up our game and be a little bit sharper.”
Edge of 17
On both of Tomas’s goal celebrations he raised his jersey to reveal a tee-shirt with a message that read “I’m only 17”.
“It’s a little inside joke,” he told reporters after the match. “The other fans before the game were saying I was 19 years old and only a junior in high school, but it just says ‘I’m only 17’”.
Seventeen is also the amount of state championships the Ludlow Lions have won, including three of the last four, which is quite an achievement for the 12 seniors who have been in the program for this incredible run.
“They were there from day one,” Kolodziey said of his senior class. “They’ve been good workers, and this is just a culmination of their career.”