The Chelsea High boys soccer team captured the Commonwealth Athletic Conference’s Division One championship with a 3-1 win over Northeast Regional Vocational School last Thursday and a 3-0 triumph over Greater Lowell Monday.
The two wins left the Red Devils in a tie for first with Northeast, but Chelsea earned the title thanks to a better head to head record in their two games, which Chelsea won and tied.
For both Chelsea and Northeast, and CHS senior captain Carlos Cruz, Thursday’s contest was a case of deja vu all over again as the archrivals battled in their final season meeting knowing that the league title was one the line as was the case last year.
And similar to last year’s game, when Cruz potted the winning goal with less than a minute to go to give Chelsea the 2009 crown, Cruz once again was the main man for the Red Devils, as he score all three of the Red Devil goals.
Chelsea held a 2-0 lead at the half on Cruz’s first two markers, but Northeast scored halfway through the second half to turn an already intense affair into a tension filled drama.
“We were on their home field and they had the momentum and the fans behind them,” said CHS assistant coach Evan Protasowicki. “It was as tense a game as we’ve played all season.”
However, Chelsea soon zoomed into Cruz Control when Captain Carlos reached the back of the Northeast net with about 10 minutes to go to seal the Chelsea triumph.
Still, the Red Devils faced the season finale Monday with Greater Lowell, needing a victory to clinch the D-1 title. But any chance that Lowell might play the spoiler role disappeared soon thanks to Cruz, who played a key offensive role again, potting two of the three Chelsea markers. Sophomore midfielder Hilcias Palencia Maldonado accounted for the other Chelsea score.
“We’ve really come together as a team,” said Protasowicki. “A big key to our success has been our defense, which has matured as the season has progressed.”
Red Devil Coach Milt Milutinovic and crew finished the regular season with a lofty 11-1-2 record and now await the announcement of their seeding and pairing in the Division 1 North Sectional of the state tournament. With a winning percentage of .822, Chelsea is all but assured of either a first round bye or a home game or both.