WORCESTER, Mass. -- This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Sutton High School’s boy’s varsity soccer team, instead, it resulted as season that was capped off by a Division 3 state championship on Friday.
The Sammies took the lead early, and never looked back, as they defeated Eastern Mass. champion Georgetown on Friday, 3-1.
“This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us,” Sutton head coach Michael Elster said. “We lost 10 seniors last year, we had two guys that started last year, a whole new team, [and] they worked hard all season and the most important thing is anyone knows in sports is [that] they came together and played well together.”
Georgetown head coach Chris Difranco added, “We told the guys from the start of the tournament [that] only one team in Division 3 is going to win their last game and we wanted it to be us, [but] it wasn’t."
Sammies sophomore forward Riley Steele recorded the team’s first strike, after he collected a free kick, which bounced off a Georgetown defender before Sutton added their second score literally five minutes later. Justin Rothermich connected on a 12-yard score, which gave the Sammies a comfortable 2-0 lead entering the intermission.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, the whole game no matter what the score was,” Steele said. “We went up, 1-0 [and then] we went up, 2-0, got a little more comfortable.”
In the second half, Georgetown’s goalkeeper Ben Warren struggled to stop a Sutton cross during the opening minutes, which resulted in an own goal, and the Sammies final score of the evening.
“[When we] put that third goal in, we [then] just sat in the drivers seat the rest of the game, we knew we had it at that point,” Steele said.
The Royals offense eventually made up for their keeper’s error late in the second half with a goal by senior Matt Bitchell during the closing minutes, but it wasn’t enough to comeback and tie Sutton.
“They played well. Sometimes we tightened up, and they started controlling the game a little bit, so it got a little nerve racking, but we’d get the momentum back, so I thought it was a gift getting those goals early truly obviously made the difference in the game for us because there were times they were putting pressure on us, so overall, I’m very proud of the guys because they hung in there at times they were under pressure,” Elster said.
Despite the loss, Difranco felt his team fought valiantly, and played a good game too.
“I’m really proud of our guys of how they carried themselves, even being down, 3-0,” said Difranco. “We didn’t give up, but you got to hand it to the other team, they just brought it all day.”