PLYMOUTH — Vanilton Xavier nearly put Brockton ahead in the first minute of Thursday’s Division 1 South semifinal, but his point-blank shot nailed the crossbar.
But with the Boxers’ season on the line, Xavier connected on a second opportunity 88 minutes later.
The junior forward headed in a feed during the first overtime period, breaking a scoreless tie and propelling Brockton to the sectional final with a 1-0 win over Xaverian at Romano Field in Plymouth.
With the clock winding down in the first golden-goal overtime period, senior captain Erick Brito sent a long pass into the box where Xavier leapt above the crowd and sliced the ball off his head, beating Xaverian keeper Thomas Rodia to his left.
Third-seeded Brockton (16-5) can capture a second sectional title in three seasons at Hingham High when the Boxers play top-seeded Needham (15-3-3), which beat Silver Lake in the other semifinal, in Saturday’s final.
“I turned my body on the cross and came up with the header and I was lucky it got in,” Xavier said. “I knew if I capitalized in the first minute it would have been really different, but we fought through and went to overtime and said we’re going to win this game.”
Hawks sophomore Finn Mungovan also had a shot from the top of the box in the first half that hit the bottom of the crossbar. In the second half, both teams had a pair of shots from inside the box that were saved, sending the scoreless match to overtime.
With the win, Brockton avenged a 1-0 loss to second-seeded Xaverian (13-4-4) earlier in the season as well as last fall’s 2-1 overtime loss to BC High in the sectional semifinals.
“Last year, same place, same round, we got knocked out and it hurt,” Brockton coach Hermino Furtado said. “We had to be patient and sometimes you need luck.”
Needham 2, Silver Lake 0 — After a tightly contested first half, top-seeded the Rockets flipped a switch for the final 40 minutes, exhibiting the dominance they have displayed all season long.
Senior forward Alejandro Agualimpia broke a scoreless tie in the 47th minute and the Rockets’ defense smothered the Silver Lake (14-6) attack from there. Captain Nate Goldberg added the finishing touches with a 40-yard strike with seconds remaining as Needham blanked Silver Lake in the other Division 1 South semifinal.
“We talked at halftime about trying to utilize width more,” Needham coach Jimmy Odierna said. “We got the ball around and got a lot of opportunities right off the bat. We were frustrated we didn’t put the game away earlier.”
Needham senior Matt Dougherty was rewarded with a penalty kick two minutes into the match, but Silver Lake goalie JJ Devine (8 saves) made a diving save to keep it scoreless. The Rockets also hit a crossbar in the first frame.
Agualimpia finally broke through for the Rockets when he dribbled through traffic and fired a left-footed shot for a 1-0 lead.
The Needham defense, led by seniors Brian Poolman and Matt Fidurko, played exceptional in the back, allowing just three shots on net.
“We focused a lot this week on one-and-one defense,” Odierna said. “We did a nice job holding them up and we had guys tracking back and doubling up from behind and stealing the ball.”
Matt Doherty can be reached at email@example.com.