LINCOLN, Rhode Island ---- The Massasoit men's soccer team fell in an early 2-0 hole, but rallied thanks to a first-half hat trick by Devondre Armstrong (Barnstable) to earn a come-from-behind 5-2 victory to capture its sixth-straight NJCAA Region 21 Championship.
Massasoit (8-6, 2-0 R21) advances to the NJCAA Division I Northeast District Tournament, which the Warriors will host next weekend at Warrior Field, thanks to sweeping the two-game season series with the Knights.
The start of the game looked bleak for the now 28-time Region 21 Champion men's soccer program, as CCRI scored just 7:19 in the game on a goal by Austin Degiacomo.
Just 38 seconds later, the Knights would strike again as Prince Sawyer rocketed home a goal as Massasoit fell into an early 2-0 hole, stunning the visiting Warriors.
Despite the early deficit, 12-time Region 21 Champion head coach Rui Estrela had faith that his squad would respond.
"I felt right from the beginning we had pressure on them," Estrela said. "We made two bad decisions in the back early on where we fell asleep and they capitalized. But, I could sense we were going to come back. We had a bunch of opportunities. We got in a groove and guys started putting balls into the back of the net for us."
Luckily for Massasoit, the contest was far from over. Freshman Devondre Armstrong found a great time to produce a career-best breakout performance donning the Green and White. Held without a goal all season, Armstrong poked home the team's first goal, and the first of his Massasoit career, off a saved shot kicked by Charlie Swann (England) in the 13th minute.
Armstrong's goal jump-started the Warrior offense that would score three times in an 11-minute span.
In the 22nd minute, keeper David Isaac (Brockton) punted a ball that sailed deep to Armstrong who took it to goal on a breakaway to even up the score, 2-2.
Less than three minutes later, Armstrong would strike yet again on a cross by Leon Zaffonato (Brazil), giving the Barnstable native a hat trick in the first half and the Warriors a lead they would not relinquish.
"(Devondre) was definitely a factor for us. He has so much speed. We did not use him a lot during the season, but he's really come around. He's proved he can play at this level and his speed is a major factor. I think the last two games he has been very productive for us," Estrela said.
The first half scoring spree was not over yet, as Charlie Swann knocked in his team-high 13th goal of the season off a pass from Edmar Goncalves (Brockton) as the Warriors held a 4-2 lead at the break.
Neither team could do much offensively in the second half, until Zaffonato scored the match's final goal on a through ball pass from Ismael Lobo (Brockton), in the 80th minute, securing Massasoit's 28th Region 21 Championship in men's soccer history.
Massasoit finished the match with 28 shots, 17 coming on goal, compared to 12 shots (six on goal) by the home Knights.
David Isaac earned the win in net for Massasoit, making four saves in goal.
"The field conditions were not ideal for us, but we got some strong physical play in the middle from Edmar Goncalves and that really helped us get the victory. It was a great win and these guys deserve it and now we can look forward to hosting the districts next weekend," Estrela said.