LYNN — Junior forward Elayna Grillakis scored the winning goal in the 58th minute as Central Catholic surged past Nashoba, 2-0, Saturday at Manning Field to capture the school’s first Division 1 state championship since 2010.
The victory capped a 23-0 season for the Raiders. The Chieftains finished 15-4-4.
With the game scoreless at the break, Central Catholic coach Casey Grange breathed a sigh of relief, knowing her team was capable of better soccer.
“We didn’t play our best first half of the season,” Grange said. “But as soon as the second half started, we got a nice opportunity right away. I felt good, which is the opposite of how I was feeling in the first half. I was pretty confident.”
Sure enough, with 22 minutes remaining, Central Catholic broke the stalemate. Grillakis drove in on net and capitalized on a one-on-one chance against the Nashoba keeper.
“She’s been the best player on the field every single game this season on both teams,” Grange said. “Big players step up in big games, and she absolutely has done that.”
Just seven minutes later, junior forward Caitlin Regan bolstered the Central Catholic lead to 2-0, finishing a set up from junior Ashley Raphael.
“We have three forwards, it’s literally a three-headed monster,” Grange said. “You can’t stop all of them every game.”
Saturday’s result marked the 14th shutout of the season for the Raiders, the Merrimack Valley champs who completed the regular season atop The Globe’s top 20 rankings.
“I’m just super proud of my team,” Grange said. “To have a perfect season with zero ties, zero loses, it’s just unbelievable. I barely had to coach these girls. They were so self-motivated and driven. We didn’t let down the entire season, and I’m just so happy for them.”Griffin Connolly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.