Warriors’ Boys Soccer Stunned In State Quarterfinal

By: Brad Joyal

Nauset junior Arlo Lawless fends off two Scituate defenders while trying to possess the ball during a Division 2 state tournament Round of 16 game Nov. 10 at Nauset Regional High School in North Eastham. BRAD JOYAL PHOTO

Not all losses are created equal. Sure, the feeling of defeat stings whether a game is decided in the first half or the final minutes, but some losses hurt more than others.

The way the Nauset boys soccer team’s season ended last weekend is a prime example that some losses are more difficult to endure than others. The eighth-seeded Warriors suffered a season-ending 4-3 defeat to top-seeded East Longmeadow in penalty kicks on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the Division 2 state tournament.

Junior Nate Watring scored three first-half goals to help Nauset build a 3-0 lead before the intermission, though East Longmeadow battled back to tie it at 3 in the second half and then ultimately escaped with a victory after the teams took part in two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods and nine rounds of penalty kicks.

“Nate Watring’s hat trick was just an unbelievable effort,” Nauset coach John McCully recalled Monday during a phone interview. “Even though we were up 3-0 at halftime — that was deceiving, the game could’ve easily been 3-3. We knew at halftime we were going to have to really buckle down a bit because they were going to throw everything at us.”

East Longmeadow’s captain Ryan Morneau put the Spartans on the board early in the second half before Sonny Mazza bested Nauset goalkeeper Chase Lemieux to cut the Warriors’ lead to 3-2. The equalizer came with five minutes remaining, as Colin Evans found the back of the net after assisting on Mazza’s goal earlier in the half.

After 20 minutes of scoreless overtime, the teams met for five rounds of penalty kicks.

Neither team’s first shooter scored before Watring netted his fourth goal of the game during the second round of PKs. Mazza matched him with a goal moments later to send the teams into the third round tied at 1.

Both goalkeepers stopped the third shots they saw before Nauset’s Ben Rose and Morneau each scored in the fourth round. Two misses followed in the fifth round before the teams traded goals in the sixth, seventh and eighth; juniors Arlo Lawless, Dejorno Davis and Grayson Farber scored in order for the Warriors, while Ryan Brunelle, Joe Presnal and Michael Monroe followed suit with answers for the Spartans.

After Nauset senior Caelan Donovan’s shot missed the net in the ninth round, Aman Khurana fired a low shot into the Warriors’ net to seal the victory for East Longmeadow, which earned a spot against No. 21 Canton in the semifinals Wednesday at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough.

“You want it for your seniors and that’s why I’m so heartbroken for my seniors because we let one slip away,” McCully said. “We knew going in that [East Longmeadow was] a very talented team. They started 10 seniors, but our kids gave it their best shot.”

The Nauset coach said he couldn’t help but begin strategizing on the bus ride home to North Eastham from East Longmeadow, which took more than three hours late Sunday night.

“We were talking about it on the way back; for me, it’s all about the journey, and in the offseason it is about putting the puzzle back together,” McCully said after this year’s team finished with a 17-2-1 record.

The Warriors will bring back a talented group of juniors from this year’s team. Their coach knows that the experience of playing in the state tournament will prove to be beneficial after the majority of this year’s squad entered the postseason with little or no playoff experience due to COVID-19 canceling last fall’s state tourney.

McCully is also excited to have Watring return as a senior after he led the Cape and Islands League with 36 points off 22 goals and 14 assists.

“Having a junior captain — the top goal scorer on our team and the league — coming back is a big help,” he said. “We have a very talented group coming back and we’re hoping that they will benefit from what happened in this year’s tournament.”

Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal