WORCESTER — When the Groton-Dunstable boys’ soccer team looked up at the scoreboard at Worcester State University following Saturday’s Division 2 state title game against Medway, it saw the same 2-0 score that crowned the team champions just a year ago.
Two goals by captain Nate Pomeroy and solid defense sealed the deal for the Crusaders (18-2-3), who, after defeating defending back-to-back champion Concord-Carlisle last season, have put together two a row themselves.
“This was Nate’s time to shine,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Sean Wisbey, whose team went 17-0-3 over the final 20 games. “I said to him at the beginning of the season when we started this journey, this is going to be your moment if we can get back in that championship game.”
Ben Lutz led Pomeroy up on a left wing rush that was taken all the way to the end line before a shot was tossed toward the net. It found the far right side after deflecting off Medway keeper Brian Kokoszka, putting the Crusaders up, 1-0, in the 18th minute.
The Groton-Dunstable defense, which had allowed only two goals in five postseason games, stepped up whenever Medway mounted an attack.
With the Crusaders on their heels, keeper Connor Maguire was forced to make a couple of key saves and defender Adam Kmetz came up with a big kick stop in front of the net on a point-blank shot from Brendan Robinson with under nine minutes remaining in the first half.
Following some textbook ball movement up the left wing, Crusaders forward Matt Tornaritis launched a shot from the top of the box, but Kokoszka made a diving fingertip save to keep the Mustangs (19-4-1) within one with 30 minutes to play.
However, Medway could not hold the relentless Crusaders attack at bay and in the 17th minute of the second half, they struck again when Mike Keating flicked a long ball into the box that Pomeroy headed over Kokoszka for his eighth goal of the postseason.
“It was good to get those two goals and our defense did a great job of holding them back and not letting anything in,” said Pomeroy. “I didn’t feel as much pressure as I did last year and didn’t sense as much pressure. It allowed me to get more shots on goal.”
Keating, alongside Paolo Filho, anchored the defensive unit, wrangling the Mustangs, who were without one of their top scorers, senior forward Matthew Coakley.
“We came in with the expectations of winning a state championship,” said Medway coach Jeff Hallenbeck. “We just wanted to play our game plan, so we started to bring guys up late in the game. Our through balls were a little bit direct tonight.”