Brockton whipped a cross in from the right flank in the 73rd minute, and junior forward Edson Lopes – all 5 feet, 5 inches – leapt for a header.
With a St. John’s Prep defender on his back, Lopes was bundled over, and the head referee wasted no time in pointing to the penalty-kick spot. The score was locked at 1-1, and up stepped senior midfielder Odair Monteiro with his left boot, who calmly deposited into the right corner for the eventual winner.
That settled a 2-1 home win in a Division 1 boys’ soccer state semifinal at Marciano Stadium Tuesday night, in what was a de-facto home match for the Boxers (20-1-2).
Brockton, in search of its first Division 1 state title, will now face Longmeadow on Saturday for the crown.
“We’ve been longing for this for a long time,” said Brocktoncoach Herminio Furtado. “We’ve had so many talented players in this city. It’s a testament to what this city is about in terms of soccer – we’re an immigrant community.”
While Monteiro grabbed the decisive goal, the night was largely overshadowed by physical play. The Boxers received one yellow card, and the Eagles (19-1-3) were handed three yellows themselves.
“I don’t think we got any help from the officials, I’ll put it that way,” said St. John’s Prep coach David Crowell. “The MIAA, the officials are supposed to be from Central Mass. for this game; they’re from right around the corner. I know it sounds like sour grapes, but Brockton is still a hell of a team.”
Crowell added that he felt the foul on Lopes was a “phantom call.”
Before then, a scoreless deadlock was broken by Brockton’s leading scorer and junior forward Leonardo Teixeira, when he bundled home from six yards out in the 24th minute. St. John’s Prep clawed back, though, in the 59th minute when senior midfielder Brian Brennan, the Catholic Conference MVP, poked one home to make it 1-1.
Junior goalkeeper Christian Buckley, playing in place of his injured brother, Cam, a senior, made seven grade-A stops for the Eagles.
“It’s not over yet,” Furtado said. “We have one more to go, and our goal is to win it.”
Division 2 South
Oliver Ames 3, Pembroke 0 — The Tigers clinched their third sectional title over the last four seasons, shutting out sixth-seeded Pembroke at Taunton High.
Oliver Ames (15-2-4), which won a state title in 2015, will face Concord-Carlisle (13-2-6) in the Division 2 final on Saturday. The Patriots defeated the Tigers, 1-0, for the 2014 state title.
“We played [Concord-Carlisle] in 2014 when they were the top team in the region and we look forward to playing them again,“ said OA coach John Barata. “They’ve got five state titles and in high school soccer, they represent the bar you aim to reach.”
A dominant first-half effort finally paid dividends for the fourth-seeded Tigers when senior captain Nathaniel Cardoza headed in a goal off a well-placed corner kick from Jack Sheldon to make it 1-0 in the 39th minute.
“All the seniors know that this could be our last game, so everyone goes in with one hundred percent effort and that’s what you need,” said Cardoza. “That was a really nice ball and I knew I had to put it in for [Sheldon].”
OA outshot Pembrokein the first half, 13-4, although the Titans (13-4-5) put three of their four attempts on net, including a volley off the crossbar in the 35th minute.
Late in the second half, the floodgates opened, as Sheldon found senior Matthew Alvarado for a goal in the 71st minute. Then senior Michael Nikiciuk followed with a goal off a rebound 90 seconds later when James Gillespie’s strike ricocheted off Pembroke goalkeeper Cam Carter.
With 20 seniors on the roster, Oliver Ames has plenty of experienced postseason warriors. After beating top-seeded Nauset, 1-0, on penalty kicks in the sectional semifinals, that experience helped Barata’s squad turn the page.
“Winning the big game, we knew that it was just one game, but our experienced kicked in and we turned the corner well,” Barata said. “Now we’ve got to adjust and get ready for the biggest game on Saturday.”Nate Weitzer reported from Taunton.