WORCESTER — The final state title game of the soccer season required a few extra minutes to determine a winner and with a full push into the Medway box, a bounding ball was knocked home by Cameron Messier to give Belchertown a 2-1 victory and the Division 3 state championship, its first in school history.
“As soon as I scored it was just a huge rush of adrenaline,” said Messier. “It feels like a dream right now.”
The Orioles dialed up the pressure in the sixth minute of overtime and after Billy Aldrich missed in front of the net, Jonathan Ingram shot from the left side. Although the initial bid was stopped, it landed on Messier’s foot for the golden goal opportunity.
“It’s been a long time coming for us,” said Belchertown coach Tony Almeida, whose team lost to Stoneham in their last finals appearance in 2005. “It’s great to pull one off.”
Although the game took on a defensive-minded tone, the Mustangs charged out of the gate and onto the scoreboard in the sixth minute of play.
Senior Justin Kaplan found sophomore Jacob Warren alone on the edge of the left side of the box, and before the defense could close in, Warren blistered his shot past Belchertown keeper Lewis Berger’s diving attempt, finding the far post for the 1-0 lead.
“It was a lapse on the right side of our field,” said Almeida. “We never lost confidence . . . they knew they could recoup from this.”
A bevy of corner kicks for the Orioles (five in the first half) went for naught, but a throw-in from John Stinson in the 32d minute helped set up the neutralizing score.
With the ball coming in from the left side, Mustangs goalie Michael Bagdon lost track of it in traffic and Sam Stroman’s header in front of the net hit the crossbar and dropped past the goal line, leaving the teams tied after the first half.
The Orioles handled the bulk of play in the second half, using set pieces to near perfection to create opportunities in front of Medway goalie Michael Bagdon, but the Mustangs back line staunchly defended their turf and sent the game to overtime.
“I don’t know if the guys got a little excited when we scored so early,” said Medway coach Jeff Hallenbeck. “We started letting down a little bit. It was a great season.”
It was the second straight season Medway (18-3-3) lost in the state final.
Belchertown, which lost in the semifinals a year ago, scored 17 goals in the postseason en route to the title.