WORCESTER — Taking advantage of the few scoring opportunities a team might get is often the difference in tournament soccer, and that was the emphasis for the Sutton girls Saturday.
It paid off, as Sutton got a pair of goals from star forward Eve Goulet to capture the Division 4 state title with a 2-1 win over Austin Prep.
“I knew if we came into the game with the right mentality and took advantage of every opportunity, we would score,” said Goulet. “That’s what we have been doing all season is take advantage of the mistakes and punish them for it.”
Sutton had come up short in recent years in the final game, but its experience on the big stage showed early as it dominated, then broke through.
Just 12 minutes in, Sutton got on the board when Providence-bound junior Alexa Elworthy lofted a perfect corner kick to the far post and Goulet headed it home for a 1-0 lead.
“It’s something we work on a lot; from the time the team was selected we are putting in corner kick options,” said Sutton coach David Payne. “It’s a big part of our offense.”
Sutton seemed to relax with the lead and Austin Prep regrouped and started to push play toward the other end.
Austin Prep earned a free kick from 25 yards and was able to take advantage. Sutton misplayed the kick, keeping the ball alive in the box. Senior Allyson Braciska flipped the loose ball over the Sutton defense, and keeper Katherine Swierk banged it home for the equalizer at the 23-minute mark of the half.
“We got up a goal and I think the girls felt so good about our possession that they let off a little bit,” said Payne.
That was the wake-up call Sutton needed, as it took control from that point, peppering the Austin Prep keeper and hitting one crossbar. The efforts were rewarded just before the half when Goulet found herself open in the box and uncorked a blast that was initially stoned by a defender. But the rebound bounced back to the Northeastern-bound sniper and she was able to head the ball in for what proved to be the winning goal.
“I was in the right position at the right time,” said Goulet. “I got it down to the middle of the net and their defender did a good job and she cleared it out, but luckily I popped it back in with my head.”
In the second half Sutton sensed its first state title was near and kept the pressure on.
“It’s unbelievable I am fortunate to coach in such a great soccer town.” said Payne. “It was nice to finally get over the hurdle.”