AUBURN — It was generally conceded that the road to the Central Mass. Boys Division 3 Soccer championship went through Sutton, and with good reason. The Sammies finished the regular season unbeaten and continued that streak with a pair of playoff wins to hold a gaudy 18-0-2 record entering the District final.
But standing in its way was a Bromfield team that has been through an up-and-down season. The Trojans stood at 15-4-2 and were battle tested through three playoff games. One of the Trojans losses was a 1-0 defeat at Sutton late in the season.
Bromfield avenged that defeat with a tough 1-0 victory, keyed by D’Vonne Williams’ second-half goal, and a brilliant effort by the Trojans’ final two lines of the defense, sweeper Brian McCullough and goaltender Will Nocka.
“Sutton is an outstanding team and I figured that one goal would do it today,” said Bromfield coach Tom Hill, who captured his 18th District championship. “In the first half we were playing not to lose, but we played better in the second half. The goal was a great finish by D’Vonne after a great pass from Derek Silver. Our defense stepped up against relentless pressure that Sutton applied. Brian McCullough, Isaac Cohen, Hunter Siegrist and Sean Thurston did a great job of weathering that pressure. I also can’t say enough about the job that assistant coaches Matt Davison and Hussein Issa did in getting these kids prepared. Their efforts were very important in all of this.”
Sutton controlled the flow of play in the first half, owning a 6-1 edge in shots on goal over the first 40 minutes. Despite the ball being in its end much of the time, the Bromfield defense did a solid job of keeping the Sutton offense on the perimeter.
Sutton received strong play from James Lacasse, Kyle Steele and Justin Rothermich, but couldn’t find the net and the game remained scoreless.
Each team had one great scoring chance in the first half.
At 28:30, Bromfield’s Paul Malloy sent a perfect lead chip to Silver, whose hard shot from point-blank range was turned away by Sutton goaltender Robert Mailea.
In the final two minutes, Nocka answered at the other end for the Trojans, stopping Steele’s low rocket from right wing with a diving save.
The Trojans took the lead at 5:29 of the second half when Silver threaded a perfect touch pass to Williams, who outran a defender and tucked a shot inside the right post past a diving Mailea to make it 1-0.
Nocka, who earned the shutout with 12 saves, made quality decisions against the Sutton offensive attack, which featured long, testing balls in front of the net, while a number of Sammies challenged the Bromfield defense. Nocka made a strong save at 13 minutes and two minutes later leaped among a number of players in front of the goal to latch on to a well-placed corner kick.
Midway through the half, Sutton had a golden opportunity to tie the game when the ball was loose about 25 yards out with Nocka well out of the net, but McCullough scrambled and somehow kept Sutton from getting a shot off.
The Trojans nearly added to the lead, but Mailea made a tremendous save to keep his team within a goal. At 28 minutes, Silver’s lead pass sent Williams in alone, but Mailea charged out of his net to stuff the shot.
A minute later, Sutton was awarded a free kick from 25 yards out and Lacasse blasted a shot that was destined for the lower right corner of the net, but a fully outstretched Nocka dove and deflected it wide to preserve the lead.
The final 11 minutes were played with Sutton intensifying the offensive pressure and Bromfield looking to clear the zone at every opportunity. The Trojans survived a pair of corner kicks and sealed the deal as McCullough distinguished himself by roaming from sideline to sideline to break up plays.
“Sutton is a great team,” said McCullough. “They are big and fast and they put a lot of pressure on us. Their crosses created a lot of scoring chances and our defense had to play physically to match up against them. I think we did it and this is a great win for us.”
“After our loss to Maynard in last year’s playoffs, there was motivation for all of us,” said Nocka. “Matt Davison has been coaching me and he has been an important part of my improvement. Getting a season under my belt last year was important, but having the level of kids around me that I do is a key. Sutton came into this game undefeated and we knew that we would have to be aggressive to play with them.”