BROCKTON, Mass. ---- The Massasoit men's soccer team captured its fifth-straight NJCAA Region 21 Championship by prevailing over the Community College of Rhode Island, 2-1, on Saturday afternoon at Warrior Field.
The victory sends the Warriors (10-5, 2-0 R21) to the NJCAA Northeast District semifinals and will face the Region 19 Champion, either Essex County CC or Mercer County CC on Saturday, Nov. 4 on the campus of Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y.
Not only is it the fifth straight regional championship for the Warriors, it marked the 10th title in 12 seasons under head coach Rui Estrela and 27th crown in program history.
"We had some easy chances to score goals in the first five minutes," Estrela said. "Like we said, if we don't put (CCRI) away early, they can hang around and hang around. Then we get sloppy because we are not scoring. But at the end of the day we got the job done; we got the win. We now move forward onto the districts."
In the first half, the Warriors had the wind at their backs and produced plenty of scoring chances. But, Massasoit could not finish as the game was tied 0-0 at the break.
Massasoit outshot CCRI (4-9-1, 0-2 R21) 10-1 in the first half and took eight corner kicks and three direct kicks inside of 30 yards. However, the CCRI defense kept the Warriors off the scoreboard.
CCRI's lone shot in the first half was nearly a goal, when Edmildo Goncalves headed a cross that went just wide in the 34th minute of action.
After Coach Estrela rallied the troops during intermission, Massasoit came out hyped for the second half. Just 51 seconds into the stanza, Leon Zaffonato (Brazil) served a through ball pass to forward Charlie Swann (England) who beat the keeper far side. It marked Swann's team-best 19th goal of the season and gave the Warriors a 1-0 cushion.
"The guys came out ready to go in the second half," Estrela said. "Leon made a nice pass and Charlie and he finished it low and to the corner. It was nice to see someone finish after we could not score in the first half despite having so many chances."
After only taking one shot in the first half, the tides turned for the Knights. Following a Massasoit injury which resulted in a half hour delay, the Knights started to put pressure on the Warriors. With Massasoit still leading 1-0, CCRI went on the attack, rifling off nine shots in the final 20 minutes of the game.
The Warrior defense would not break and in the 87th minute, Swann crossed a pass into the box that was one-timed in for a big business insurance goal by sophomore Deivys D'Almeida (New Bedford).
Despite only three minutes being left in the game, CCRI refused to quit. With only 90 seconds remaining, Cameron DiMaria rifled a shot in, bringing CCRI back within a single goal, 2-1.
Despite the late scoring frenzy, Massasoit was able to hold off the Knights and claim its 27th Region 21 Championship in program history.
Massasoit outshot CCRI 20-9 and swept the season series with the Knights.
"Feels great to win another region championship," Estrela said. "We have another chance to compete at the districts and see where it goes from there. The boys will hopefully be ready to go next Saturday."