WATERBURY — It was the defining moment of a championship season. The Watertown boys had every right to wilt, to hang their heads and maybe think this was not to be.
Instead, a true champion emerged.
Watertown received a pair of goals from senior holding midfielder Kylee Lecchi to lift Watertown to a 2-1 victory in the Naugatuck Valley League soccer championship game Wednesday night at Municipal Stadium in front of an estimated crowd of 1,000 spectators.
His second came minutes after Naugatuck had gotten the equalizer on a penalty kick.
“This is the best moment in my life right now,” said Lecchi as he held the MVP trophy in his hands. “We knew this was our season. We put in the work since the beginning of the summer. We came out strong this season, and we played with heart.”
It is hard to argue with that, if all you looked at were the two games played against four-time defending champion Naugatuck. Watertown trailed Naugatuck, 4-0, with 11 minutes to play and came away with a 5-5 tie in a miracle of a regular-season game.
The second meeting was for the whole bag of marbles, and it was Lecchi’s day. With the game scoreless into the second half, Lecchi scored a brilliant goal off a corner kick. Connor Fenn’s ball was played away by the Naugy defense, but collected by Lecchi. He turned and whipped a laser high and inside the far post past a frozen Dan Bronko.
It was 1-0 Watertown in the 44th minute. It was hard to imagine the game would stay that way. Naugatuck swarmed the Watertown defense with Tiago Martins, Marcos Soares and others peppering shots at Indians keeper Dave Hughes.
“They kept their wingbacks coming,” Hughes said. “During halftime, we told the guys, we have to stop them or else they are just going to keep getting the ball to the top.”
But the break Naugy needed to dent the net behind Hughes came in the 59th minute, when an attacker was taken down in the penalty area, and a PK awarded to the Greyhounds. Martins scored from the spot, and it was 1-1. It appeared as though Naugatuck was about to snatch this title away.
“We had to pick up our heads and keep pushing,” Hughes added. “Otherwise, we would not have gotten that last goal.”
Watertown was the only team to score Wednesday night while the clock was running, and the winning goal came with 11:55 left in the game. It was off another corner.
“All season we’ve been practicing that,” said Fenn, who delivered the ball on both corner kicks. “We come early to practice and we stay later. I feed him the ball and he finishes. And after this whole season, it finally worked.”
Fenn’s ball was perfect, and Lecchi soared above the Naugy defense to knock off the header that won a title.
As it was in the girls game before, Naugatuck led in shots, 16-6, but not in goals.
The Indians’ senior captain, Marcello Orsini, may have been the happiest of all. A knee injury robbed him of his senior season, and as he held the NVL title trophy, his eyes filled with tears.
“Even though I am not on the field, this is something I waited for for four years,” Orsini said. “We finally did it. We finally earned it.”