Knights win school's first soccer title
WORCESTER In the past two years, Catholic Memorial has won a state championship in basketball and a Super 8 hockey title.
Now, the Knights can add the school’s first-ever soccer state championship to their trophy case.
Will Donovan’s goal in the 51st minute propelled Catholic Memorial to the Division 1 state title with a 1-0 win over defending champion Ludlow Sunday at Worcester State College.
Donovan took a pass from Hamai Cantave just past midfield, split two Ludlow defenders, and outraced them 40 yards upfield. He evaded Ludlow keeper Thomas Dalmolin and deposited the ball into the back of the net for the easy score.
“I was tired, but I just tried to push through it,” Donovan said. “It was open, and it was just me and the goalie. But I was exhausted.”
The Knights (18-3-3) were particularly strong on the defensive end. Ludlow struggled through the game to get quality looks against CM keeper Connor Askins.
The first half was physical, and scoring opportunities were few and far between. Donovan pushed a ball past a diving Dalmolin in the 14th minute, but the shot missed wide left.
Ten minutes later, Ludlow’s Alex Goncalves got a knee on a ball in front of the Knights’ net, but Askins dove to his left to make the save.
Just before halftime, Ludlow’s Steve Twerago received a yellow card when he collided with Donovan 20 yards from the Lions’ net. Cantave took the ensuing free kick, but his shot missed high and right.
Ludlow (18-1-3), which has won 16 state titles, nearly took the lead off a clean look on the right side of the net by Luis Cibrao from 15 yards out. His shot sailed high though, keeping the game scoreless.
In the 62nd minute, Donovan nearly scored again on a dangerous play by Ludlow. Donovan caught up with a Ludlow defender’s pass back to Dalmolin and got a foot on it, but Dalmolin was there to smother the ball.
Askins kept his team on top with his stellar play late in the game. In the 66th minute, he turned away a shot and a crossing pass on consecutive plays.
“We couldn’t get a good look, and we needed a good look to beat Askins,” Ludlow coach Greg Kolodziey said. “We never really had a good look to put one by him.”
Frustrations mounted for Ludlow late in the game. Brandon McCarthy picked up the team’s second yellow card in the 73rd minute, and Fabio Rodriques was issued a third with less than two minutes to play.
Donovan missed an opportunity to put the game away in the 77th minute. The Knights’ had a two-on-one and Donovan had a wide-open shot to the left of the net, but he ripped it wide left.
Ultimately, it wouldn’t matter, because his earlier goal was all his team needed.
“I think they underestimated Will’s speed, Hamadi’s skills, and our pressure defense,” Catholic Memorial coach John Finn said. “That was really the difference in the game.”