WOBURN — As Marco Melero, a senior midfielder for Wayland, stepped up for his penalty kick, Sergio Salas, a senior keeper for the Watertown boys’ soccer team, readied himself between the posts.
Salas, like he had done all game, dove to his right and denied the Warrior captain for what was ultimately the penalty shootout’s only save. It paved the way for the fifth-seeded Raiders (14-6-1) to go a perfect five-for-five, with senior midfielder Jose Luiz Mendoza banging home the decisive spot kick in a 1-0 victory in the Division 3 North semifinal Wednesday night at Woburn High.
“I’m just proud of the way these guys played,” said Watertown head coach Frank Cacia. “ . . . Our boys deserved this tonight.”
The Raiders will play Melrose, a 3-0 winner over Dracut, in the North final Saturday (4 p.m.) at Manning Field.
Before Mendoza secured the win, the match was relatively quiet until the barn doors flew open in the 45th minute. That’s when Andrew Koutroukas, a senior midfielder for the Raiders, was issued a straight red card.
Despite playing down with 10 men, Watertown controlled stretches, but the Warriors still tested Salas, who made a pair of grade-A saves.
In the first half, Salas denied a point-blank volley from sophomore midfielder Kyle Mabe, then robbed junior midfielder Mateos Norian of an apparent goal in the 53rd minute.
“I kept my head up and tried being mentally focused at all minutes,” Salas said. “We were going to get it eventually and we got what we earned, what we deserved.”
While tears flowed on the Wayland sideline after the loss, head coach David Gavron said he wouldn’t have changed tactics.
One year ago, Wayland beat Nipmuc for the state title. Watertown, meanwhile, lost in the state championship in 2012 and won the North title in 2013.
“This was an incredibly dedicated group, the most skilled starting 11 players we’ve had in my career here, man for man,” Gavron said. “Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t.”