Cardoza’s Goal Gives OA Second Straight D2 South Title

Oliver Ames sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza celebrates after scoring the game winner in the second overtime. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Oliver Ames sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza celebrates after scoring the game winner in the second overtime. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief

BROCKTON, Mass. – For the second straight year, Oliver Ames is the D2 South Sectional champions for boys soccer.

Sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza scored the golden goal in the second overtime in the 95th minute minute to give Oliver Ames a 2-1 win over Medfield, the 16th seed who had made a Cinderella-like run to the finals.

The Tigers dominated portions of the first half, the majority of the second half and then most of both overtimes but couldn’t break the deadlock until Cardoza placed a shot with his right foot at the far post to give Oliver Ames the win.

“I was going to shoot with my left at first but the defender closed that off so I had to cut it and I saw a short window,” Cardoza said. “I knew I just had to get an opportunity to get the shot off and I’m just happy it went in.”

Cardoza gained possession at the top of the area and originally put the ball onto his left foot — his dominant foot — but with no shot available, he was able to keep control, touching to his right foot and unleashing a perfectly placed shot for the winner.

“I’m not so sure why we waited, we had some chances,” OA head coach John Barata said, noting the numerous scoring chances his side had before the game winner. “We dominated most of the game. Even a Medfield coach said the better team won and I’m happy to hear that. I thought the guys worked really hard but again, we’re missing chances, the game should have been over. They had two chances all game, one we were very fortunate that went wide [in overtime] and then the goal off a deflection again.”

 

It was a bit of deja vu for the Tigers when Medfield’s John Cahill found the back of the net to give the upset-minded Warriors the lead in wth 27th minute. Cahill decided to take a chance with a defender in close range and his shot took a deflection and looped into the net at the far post giving no chance for OA sophomore keeper Jack Carroll.

It was a frustrating goal for OA to concede, especially since there were two good chances to take the lead inside the first 15 minutes. In the 9th minute, senior Keegan Nutt played a ball over the top of the defense and classmate Chris Romero ran through but got under his shot and hit the crossbar from close range.

In the 16th minute, Romero served in a tempting corner that sophomore Cam Vella got a head to but it bounced just wide. In the 25th minute, just prior to Medfield taking the lead, Romero had a great shot from 25 yards out that bounced off the chest of Medfield goalie Matt Johnson but he was able to collect the rebound before any players could pounce on it.

The second half belonged to OA from the get go and sophomore Jack Sheldon nearly pulled things level in the 43rd minute. A long throw from senior Max Bamford deflected to Sheldon and he took a chance on goal but it went just wide at the near post.

In the 53rd minute, Barata elected to change things up a bit, going with a look similar to that when the Tigers scored the game winner against Hingham two games prior. Romero moved to the left flank and pushed sophomore Mason Galbato into a holding position in front of the defense. That moved Vella to a more attacking position up front.

The change paid dividends pretty quickly as OA found the equalizer just six minutes later. Sheldon served in a cross from the right flank that was hit back across the face of goal. Medfield made its first mistake of the night in the back as the ball got past a defender and fell right to Vella. The sophomore took a heavy touch forward and then finished with his right foot at a tight angle to make it 1-1.

“Things changed,” Barata said of the move. “We started dominating the game. We need some speed and some technique in front of the back three so I tried to keep Vella there but we just weren’t getting enough forward in terms of chances. I put Vella, who is disgustingly good, up front and him and [Thomas] McCormick just created havoc and Galbato did a super job of keeping our infrastructure in the midfield so that change really won us the game.”

“I think it helps us pressure up a lot because Cam’s a really good offensive player,” Cardoza said of the change. “I love to play with [Vella] and I love Mason because he keeps the stability in the midfield when he drops back there.

OA kept up its pressure but had to deal with a late free kick chance from the Warriors, who relied heavily on the counter attack in the second half and overtime. A free kick from 25 yards out was cleared wide to Romero, who quickly played a long ball up field. Nutt ran onto it, headed it forward and tried to go over Johnson from 18 yards out but didn’t get enough on it and Johnson’s leaping stop prevented a winner in the 79th minute.

Medfield had a chance less than five minutes into overtime after the Warriors were able to handle a rush from the Tigers. Kevin McCordic let the ball run across his body and ripped a left footed shot but it rolled wide at the far post.

With just two minutes gone in the second overtime, Medfield was awarded a free kick right at the top of the box. The shot hit the wall in front and went over the net and the Tigers were able to deal with the ensuing corner kick.

Three minutes later, Cardoza converted the game winner to send the Tigers to the D2 EMass/State Finals for the second straight year.

“We were pushing, we had to get a goal,” Barata said. “We didn’t want to go to PKs because they had done it already and didn’t want it to be a David and Goliath situation and have them knock us out.”

Oliver Ames now improves to 17-0-3 and will play in the D2 State Final on Saturday, November 21st. The Tigers will either get a rematch with Concord-Carlisle or will play Masconomet in the finals with a time and location still to be announced.

“It’s very difficult because there’s a big target on your back but it was fun too because it was something that kept motivating the guys and now we’ll look forward to playing either Concord-Carlisle or Masconomet and both of those teams are ridiculously good so we’re going to have a lot to prepare for over the next seven days.”

Ryan Lanigan
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