It was an all-ISL Class B NEPSAC finals matchup on the turf at Worcester Academy, as #1 Middlesex took on the #6 seed Rivers. Rivers had advanced by defeating Brooks in overtime and Kimball Union on penalties, while Middlesex advanced via wins over Groton, in regulation, and South Kent, on penalties. The Rivers team achieved a blend of dynamic attack and tenacity, coupled with excellent goalkeeping from senior Michael Webber. Patrick Dublin and Aidan Davock posed consistent threat to the Middlesex goal, and never more than in the first ten minutes when Dublin hit a 40-yard diagonal ball onto Davock's chest for a settled touch and volley that rattled the crossbar. Senior goalkeeper Kenyon Pelletier was called upon to make four saves in the first half, and sophomore keeper Alfonso De Vito made one crucial point blank save in the waning seconds of the match. Middlesex thought that they were off to a flying start in the 8th minute when Jacob Charles buried a chance in the box that was disallowed for being in an offside position.
The lone goal of the match came in the 23rd minute on a lightning counter that began when Haydn Herrema played a ball from the edge of the Middlesex area to Kwabena Kwakwa, who spun around his man with his first touch and played a ball into the seam between the defenders for an onrushing Anyolo Makatiani. Makatiani beat the keeper and the retreating center back to the ball on the left edge of the Rivers penalty area and took his first touch towards the corner flag. With the ball two yards wide of the box and the angle diminishing, Makatiani hammered the ball with his left foot and into the back of the net at a full sprint. There were close calls on both ends of the field, as Rivers capitalized on the monster distribution of Webber's right foot, and Middlesex balanced slow and fast attack by probing both sides of the width and breaking with speed on the counter.
The Middlesex defense of Justin Krayer, Justin D'Alessandro, Liam Tasker, Cooper Buch, and freshman George Lin did an excellent job of marshaling the Rivers attack, while Herrema, Kwakwa, sophomore Andrew Parker, and junior Ollie Cheever changed the point of attack and kept the ball on the floor in the midfield. The attack was led by seniors Josh Quirk and Jacob Charles, who both created and produced many of Middlesex's 15 shots, but it was Makatiani's left-footed strike that proved to be the difference in producing Middlesex's first-ever New England championship in boys' soccer.
After the final whistle had gone, both teams embraced and shook hands while recognizing that this final was an incredible showcase for the quality of play and character to be found in the ISL. Rivers Head Coach Steve Schechter spoke eloquently and with great generosity at the awards ceremony, and their program deserves great praise for the classy performance of their boys in this run to the finals. For Middlesex, this was a season of many firsts: since the ISL Boys' Soccer league merged in 1980, this was their first ISL title in boys' soccer, and the first New England championship as well for the school. The team finished with an undefeated record of 18-0-3, and the seniors graduate with a 32 match unbeaten streak against ISL competition.
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