Sutton claims boys' and girls' D4 state titles

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Sutton was playing in a new division, but the result was the same. The Sammies completed an unbeaten season and won their third straight state title with a dominant 4-0 win over Cohasset in Saturday afternoon’s Division 4 final at Foley Stadium in Worcester.

Head coach Michael Elster, whose team had won the last two Division 3 titles, credited the experience of playing in the final for the Sammies (19-0-4) comprehensive victory.

“We’ve been there; we have a little history to it so we’ve built with that confidence and it’s helped us some,” said Elster.

Sutton was hardly troubled by the Cohasset attack with the Skippers (18-5-2) failing to record a shot on target in the game.

Elster continued, “The passing game was good today and, honestly, we had a little speed up front that they had a hard time with. Overall I thought we had the ball a lot today and it helped.”

The Sammies kept possession for the majority of the first half but it took 22 minutes to find the breakthrough. After a scramble on a corner, senior forward Ryan Elster found the back of the net to make it 1-0. Two minutes later, another Elster, Jordan, provided the assist on a free kick as sophomore Cole Acocelli looped a header over the stranded keeper.

Acocelli also scored the insurance goal 10 minutes into the second half. He took a feed from Riley Steele on the left-side of the box, cut in on his right foot, and coolly slotted home the third goal. His coach hopes that the young player will signal more success in the future for the Sammies.

“Cole has been working hard for me all season,” said Elster. “I respect him and it’s nice to have a sophomore do that for you because it bodes well for the future. He’s a very special player that works really hard.”

Acocelli admitted that the third goal gave Sutton the cushion it needed to feel comfortable in the second half. He noted, “We just needed one more. We were saying that as we went out that it was what we needed.”

After being part of his second title, Acocelli also reflected on the team’s three-peat, “It’s very, very special. We’ve put in a lot of work this season. We work hard and we deserve every one of them.”

When asked what has allowed Sutton to create a successful program, Elster responded, “One of the things that’s important, it’s clich├ęd in a way, but the kids really play for each other. I had a kid out there, Logan Nellis who is a senior and he didn’t even play in the state semi. They buy into that and by buying into that it gives us a chance.”

The coach remarked that he will take a little time to enjoy this year’s title, but that he will be back at work in search of title No. 4 soon enough.

“It never ends for me; I’m kind of a junkie when it comes to this stuff. I’m going to enjoy it but at the same time I’m losing nine seniors and what am I going to do next. I’ll probably try to relax until January.”

D4 Girls’ Final: Sutton 2, Austin Prep 1

The third time was the charm for the Sutton girls’ soccer team.

After two Division 3 state championship appearances in the past two years, the Suzies (20-1-2) finally brought home a trophy after a 2-1 victory over Austin Prep (18-2-3) on Saturday morning at Foley Stadium in their first year in D4.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Sutton head coach David Payne about taking home the title on the third attempt. “Today there was a little bit, ‘Hey, we’re back here. Can it be No. 2 again?’ There was a little bit of nerves, but also because of a little experience there was some, ‘Hey, we can do this.’ It was nice to get over the hurdle.”

Junior defender Eve Goulet, who has committed to play at Northeastern University, scored a first half brace for the Suzies. The first was on a corner to make it 1-0 and the second was on a rush upfield 10 minutes after Prep tied the game. Her first shot was blocked on the line, but she stayed with it to knock in the rebound.

“The second goal, I was in the right position at the right time,” said Goulet. “I followed the run up to the PK area and kept my head over the ball and I got it down into the middle of the net. Luckily, the defender got her foot on it and cleared it back out then I popped it back in with my head.”

Austin Prep tied the game in the 23rd minute. Kristen Swierk tapped in at the far post after Allyson Braciska’s cross was deflected off a defender and across the box. It was one of the few attacks that the Cougars mustered against a dominant Sutton midfield and defense.

Payne said, “Historically, over the course of our season, the only goals that we’ve given up have been off set pieces. We don’t give up goals from the run of play; our back line is very good. From an intensity standpoint, I think the girls got up a goal and felt so good about our possession…they let off a little bit.”

The second half was mostly absent of chances for either team, although Sutton did hit the bar twice in the final 10 minutes. Brianna Wason hit the bar from 25 yards and Rachel Fox nodded a corner down off the turf and up off the cross bar.

In the end, Sutton would not need a third goal. The title was finally theirs and Goulet was thrilled to take home the trophy.

“I knew coming into the game that if we came in with the right attitude of intensity and took advantage of every opportunity that we would score,” she remarked. “That’s what we’ve been doing all season; taking advantage of mistakes and punishing them for it.”