DEXTER — After the heavy rains lifted Thursday, both Watertown soccer teams emerged victorious with shutout wins to reclaim Frontier League titles.
In the night’s finale, Belleville Henderson’s boys team once again found away to rally against Lyme, this time to win a second consecutive division playoff championship.
Sophomore Tatum Overton scored all four goals as Watertown’s girls soccer team defeated Carthage, 4-0, to win the league’s “A” Division playoff title at General Brown’s Fisher Field.
Then, Ethan Uliano scored two goals and Riley Connell tallied a goal and assisted on another as the Watertown boys downed Carthage, 3-0, in the “A” Division final.
Finally in the boys “D” Division title game, Brandon Bast scored twice in the second half to lift Belleville Henderson past Lyme, 2-1.
WATERTOWN BOYS TAKE TITLE
Connell scored the game’s first goal and assisted on Uliano’s first goal to spark top-seeded Watertown past No. 2 Carthage in the boys “A” Division final.
“It feels great, we’ve been working hard all season to get ready for this,” Connell said.
The Cyclones, who led 1-0 at halftime before breaking open a close game, secured their second playoff crown in three years.
“We got a great start and kept our intensity throughout the game,” Watertown coach Todd Heckman said. “I’m very happy with the boys tonight.”
Uliano, a transfer from rival Immaculate Heart Central, won his second division playoff championship in as many years with two different teams.
“It’s been great, they’ve welcomed me,” said Uliano, a senior midfielder. “I’m a team captain now and it’s good to be here and contribute.”
Last year, Uliano and the Cavaliers edged Watertown, 1-0, in the final on the same field.
“We were the underdog last year,” Uliano said of IHC. “This year, we were the team that was supposed to win it and we did.”
“It was a heartbreaker,” Connell said of last year’s loss. “This is definitely a lot better. The whole team, we’re just feeling excited and happy and proud to be here.”
Connell opened the scoring Thursday with one minute and 46 seconds left in the first half on an opportunistic goal, and he converted on a rebound of a Carter Benham shot, which the goalie had saved.
“Carter Benham was on the left side and he cut in and took a shot far post,” Connell said. “And the keeper saved it, but it bounced off him to me and I was able to place it.”
Connell then set up Uliano’s first goal of the night, coming in the 50th minute, as Uliano finished off the pass.
Uliano gave Watertown a 3-0 lead as he scored in the 59th minute, with Simon Stratton assisting.
“Outstanding,” Heckman said of Uliano’s presence in his first season with Watertown. “He’s a great leader by example and does so much for us. He’s a tireless worker out there, very skilled and finished well for us today.”
Junior goalkeeper Evan Richardson made two saves for the shutout.
Heckman credited defenders Stratton, Ben Rathbun and Hayden Augliano for backing the defensive effort.
“Outstanding, they were solid the whole night,” Heckman said of his team’s defense. “The communication was great, they didn’t miss a beat.”
Watertown also won the division’s regular-season title with a 9-1 record.
“Especially from last year losing in the final, and coming back this year with this win,” Connell said. “It’s a bit of a statement, I think.”
Senior goalie Braeden Dorchester finished with seven saves for Carthage (6-8-1), which played in its first division final in recent years.
BELLEVILLE HENDERSON BOYS REPEAT AS CHAMPIONS
Top-seeded Belleville Henderson completed yet another comeback against Lyme, this time to secure their second straight “D” Division playoff title, in an intense and physical game.
“I don’t know what it is about Lyme, but every time we meet them, it’s a dogfight, from start to finish,” Belleville Henderson coach Shawn Maloney said.
Like they had done in the previous two regular-season meetings, the Panthers trailed the Indians at halftime, this time, 1-0, but managed to rally for the win.
“I don’t know what it is, it’s almost like it’s the only way we want to get there,” Maloney said. “It’s just crazy. I knew they had it in them and at halftime, they knew they had it in them. We’ve been here before and we know what we need to do.”
Bast scored twice within 12 minutes in the second half, and goalie Jeremy McGrath made 10 saves.
“This is fantastic,” Belleville Henderson senior defender and team captain Logan Simpson said. “There’s no feeling like having this two years in a row. It’s amazing, they’re an amazing team, and I’m so glad we got to play them and prevailed.”
Belleville Henderson (16-0) then held off Lyme for the rest of the game in similar fashion to last year’s division final, won by the Panthers, 3-2.
“They’re an extremely tough team,” Simpson said of Lyme. “They’re very talented up front and all around. They have no particular weak spot.”
“Every single time we played them this year, we were down and had to come back,” Bast said. “I was getting a little antsy there, they were pushing back a little bit, but we held them off.”
The Panthers, who are currently ranked No. 5 in the state in Class D, continued their perfect season after going a division-winning 14-0 in the regular season.
Bast, a senior, sparked the rally when he converted off a corner kick from Ryan Green to tie the game at 1-1 only 2:32 into the second half. He struck again in the 55th minute with the go-ahead goal on a long-range drive, with Maxim Hess assisting, to put Belleville Henderson in front to stay.
“That was awesome, the game-winner,” Bast said. “And that’s why I like soccer, it’s a physical sport and when things are bad, sometimes you’ve just got to take it like a man.”
Graham Rowland provided Lyme (12-4) with a 1-0 lead on his goal nine minutes into the game.
WATERTOWN GIRLS CLAIM TITLE
Overton scored a goal early in the game to spark the top-seeded Cyclones past the No. 2 Comets to prevail in the FL’s “A” Division final.
“This feels so great,” Overton said. “We came so close last year, but we came up short. This year it feels very nice.”
Goalie Alana Mastin, also a sophomore, made seven saves for Watertown (13-3).
“It feels amazing, we worked so hard for this,” Mastin said. “And to accomplish being league champions, is amazing.”
The Cyclones reclaimed the division’s playoff championship, last winning in 2015.
“They’ve been coming along and have really been working hard,” Watertown coach Mike VanNostrand said. “It seems like we’ve got things figured out, I don’t think early on in the season we did.”
Watertown won the division’s regular-season crown, going 8-1.
“I think as the season’s progressed, we have gotten so much better with our passing and our communicating,” Overton said. “We’re playing very well right now.”
The Cyclones seized a 1-0 advantage early in the first half as Overton headed in a corner kick from Brenna Smith in the fifth minute.
“It was a nice corner kick from Brenna,” Overton said. “I was able to put it in near post.”
Overton provided Watertown with a 2-0 lead as she headed in a feed from Amaya Goodman in the 61st minute.
The Cyclones tallied a third goal as Overton scored from in close, converting a pass from Jenna Christopher in the 70th minute.
“We’ve got some solid players all over the field,” VanNostrand said. “I know Tatum had four goals tonight, but three of those were assisted. ... There’s a lot of players doing a lot of good things right now, so it’s exciting.”
Overton, who leads the team in goals and points, added another tally as she scored on a penalty kick in the 74th minute.
VanNostrand also credited Smith, a senior, for her leadership for the defense.
“They played so good,” Mastin said of Watertown’s defense. “They really did a great job of protecting me, staying in front of the ball and being really aggressive.”