Soccer: Concord-Carlisle 2, Sandwich 1

LYNN, Mass. -- The Concord-Carlisle Patriots have a chance to three-peat as Division 2 state champions, after defeating the Sandwich Blue Knights 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Sandwich (21-2-0) took the first lead of the game in the in the 23rd minute when senior forward Dallas Donovan finished off a counter-attacking move for the Blue Knights, sticking his shot into the top right corner.

Concord-Carlisle (16-4-2) equalized on the final kick of the first half when senior captain Ethan Atwood smashed the ball off the top left joint of crossbar and had the ball fly across the goal into the right side netting.

“I wasn’t even looking,” Atwood honestly admitted after the match. “I looked down and kicked the ball as hard as I could, and I was just praying.”

The momentum from the late first half goal carried over into the second half, and the Patriots took their first lead of the match in the 48th minute thanks to Scott Brazina’s close range effort. The sophomore was able to take his chance after his teammate Zach Bloom launched a deep throw into the Sandwich penalty area.

“He had a monster throw,” said Brazina about his teammates toss. “It bounced and I just wiggled my way in there, and just headed it in.”

In the 66th minute, Sandwich came close to snatching an equalizer. Senior Dino Heras played in an inviting cross for Donovan, who struck the ball well, only to be denied by C-C keeper Cray Novick.

Playing in net is something Novick hadn’t done in quite some time prior to this season.

“He hasn’t played goalie in four years,” Patriots head coach Ray Pavlik said of his junior keeper. “We’ve had some terrible goalie injuries through the year. Cray actually made the team as a midfielder, and we just needed him. He’s come in and he’s just so steady. He’s a great athlete and he remains calm and he just provide for us a leader back there.”

Concord-Carlisle had three good scoring chances in the final 21 minutes. The best of those came in the 73rd minute when senior captain Mikey O’Brien made a dazzling run into the Sandwich box, dropping his right shoulder, losing his defender only to have his shot saved by the Blue Knight goalie Kyle Van Cleef.

Sandwich had one final chance to tie the game just inside the 76th minute mark. Senior midfielder Peter Alvarenga played a perfect through ball that would have sent Donovan though on a one-on-one with Novick. But Patriots captain Christopher Walker-Jacks, with a top class slide challenge, cut out the pass.

“I looked up and knew he was going to play it there,” Walker-Jacks explained afterwards. “I was a little bit behind my man, so I knew I had to hit the floor and luckily I got there in time.”

Concord-Carlisle will take on Groton-Dunstable (19-1-1) on Saturday in Worcester for the division two state championship.

Offense scores, defense wins: Concord-Carlisle was able to limit the amount of chances that Donovan and Alevarenga were able to create. If you give Donovan a chance he’ll convert it nine times out of ten. The praise has to go to coach the Concord-Carlisle defense for staying focused for 80 minutes. Walker-Jacks was extremely impressive in the CC backline and head coach Ray Pavlik had high praise for his senior.

“Chris is one of, if not the best defensive players in Massachusetts period," Pavlik said. "He is absolutely fantastic. He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s technical he fantastic, especially in this tournament run. He’s taken his game to another level.”

Three-Peat? Winning three championships in a row in any sport is impressive. But if Concord-Carlisle was able to win their third in a row on Saturday, it would be extremely impressive considering the 2010 championship team had 15 seniors, and the 2011 team returned just two starters. There aren’t too may, if any, better than Ray Palvik.