LYNN — After moving to Division 3 this fall, the Medway boys’ soccer team was unable to defend its Division 2 EMass title from a year ago, so the Mustangs did the next best thing by taking the crown from Watertown, 1-0, at Manning Field on Tuesday.
With both teams vying to return to a state title game, the Mustangs made adjustments to their formation after a scoreless first half that opened up the field and led to the game’s lone goal.
“We were getting beat in the midfield,” said Medway coach Jeff Hallenbeck. “We made an adjustment just to move to five midfielders. We dominated the midfield and got plenty of scoring opportunities.”
“Our final goal is states,” said senior captain Justin Kaplan. “We want that redemption. We want to get back there and we want to win this time.”
Medway applied extra pressure down the wings to start the second half, which paid off when a Brady Smith blast from the left side could not be handled by Raiders keeper Greg Koutroukas (11 saves), leaving a gift on the doorstep for Adem Karacaoglu, who escorted it home.
“The goalie made a nice save,” said Kaplan. “It went through and Adem was just there to tap it right it. We needed that.”
Watertown was not given optimum offensive chances in the second half, but when Rafael DeSouza broke free on a lead pass up the middle, it looked as if things would be tied, until Mustangs goalie Mike Bagdon came charging forward to get a piece of the point-blank shot, thwarting the last great chance the Raiders would get.
Bagdon stopped six shots for his fourth shutout of the postseason.
For much of the first 10 minutes of action, the Raiders patiently pushed pressure into the Medway zone, fronted by midfielder Vardan Yeghiyan who peppered precise passes up and down the pitch.
The Mustangs moved in bursts, but were unable to sustain offensive momentum the first half, leaving things scoreless after the first forty minutes.
“Are we happy with where we are? Yes,” said Hallenbeck. “Are we satisfied and are we done? Not yet. We’ll finish it up on Saturday.”
Medway, which lost to Groton-Dunstable in the Division 2 final last year, will play for the Division 3 State title on Saturday against Belchertown.