TAUNTON — From the moment defending Division 1 state champion Needham was matched with Silver Lake, the Division 1 South sectional’s top-ranked team, a close battle was almost guaranteed.
Despite being down for most of the second half with scoring opportunities few and far between, the Lakers won the sectional title with a 2-1 double-overtime win.
Both teams were undefeated entering the game, and Needham’s last loss was in its opening game of the 2012 season.
Just over two minutes into the second overtime, Needham senior defender Daniel Alpert tried to head a loose ball back to Needham goalkeeper Adam Lassman. But Lassman was coming out of his net to try to collect the ball. The ball bounced to the left of the goal, where forward Paul Beatty managed to score from a tight angle to give Silver Lake the win.
“[Beatty] is the type of player who is so dynamic that defenses are on their heels every time he gets the ball,” said Lakers coach Dan Correia.
The Rockets had better chances in the first 30 minutes. Just seven minutes after the start, Needham senior captain Matt Brand ran down the right wing and sent a cross to the feet of junior forward Marco O’Donnell. But the shot bounced harmlessly wide of the far post from 5 yards out.
The Lakers came close in the 19th minute. Beatty got the ball near midfield, turned, and raced at the Needham defense. His shot was blocked, but it rolled out to junior Collin Lambert who hit a bullet just wide of the right post.
Just over a minute into the second half, the Rockets struck first. Junior midfielder Aram Ouligian crossed the ball to forward Hantzly Murat who side-footed his shot past Lakers keeper Stephen MacSwain from close range, giving Needham the advantage.
Silver Lake came within inches of scoring in the 56th minute. Sophomore Adam Crawford lashed into a cross, but Lassman made an outstanding save to tip the ball wide.
With less than two minutes left, Lakers midfielder Pat Hutchinson headed a ball to the far post, where Beatty took the ball down with his chest and fired a shot past Lassman to tie the game.
As the Lakers’ student section erupted, the game went to overtime. Neither team had a close chance after the first overtime.
Beatty admitted that he was limited with scoring chances for most of the night, but he didn’t get down.
“We just had to stay composed,” said Beatty. “We’re both very good teams. I knew it would be close, but that tying goal gave us all the momentum going into overtime.”