LYNN — Nearly a year after its Division 3 North boys’ soccer championship, No. 2-seeded Watertown returned to Manning Field to defend its title, defeating No. 5-seeded Bedford, 1-0, on Sunday.
Last November, the Raiders (17-2-2) used a victory in this game to propel themselves to a surprising berth in the state final. In that game, Watertown lost to Sutton, 2-1.
This time around, it’s all about unfinished business.
“All year we’ve talked about ‘One more step,’ ” said Watertown coach Frank Cacia. “It was great to get [to the final] last year, but obviously we weren’t satisfied with the result. Our ultimate goal is two more wins.”
Senior captain Vardan Yeghiyan ensured the Raiders’ season would continue, netting the game’s lone goal from the penalty spot at the end of the first half.
After the referee whistled for the foul and pointed to the spot, there was no doubt in Yeghiyan’s mind that the ball was heading into the back of the net. “We practice on our penalty kicks every single practice,” the striker said. “So I was pretty confident stepping up to the ball.”
But the Buccaneers (14-6-2) didn’t go away quietly.
Following an injury timeout with a little over 35 minutes remaining, Bedford controlled the ball for most of the second half, including a flurry of scoring chances led by forward Michael Dushman in a four-minute span late in the game.
It all led up to a close-range effort that forced a spectacular save by Watertown goalkeeper Gregory Koutroukas, who sprawled out to punch the ball away from the wide-open net with 4:02 remaining.
“That was a huge, huge save,” said Cacia. “But it’s something we’ve come to expect from [Koutroukas]. He’s been there before, making key stops for us throughout his career. I’m very proud of him. He stepped it up today.”