State Champions, coach Eileen Donahue
And having arrived, they didn’t leave. The 1989 squad picked up where it had left off. “You can’t expect anything to happen every year” Donahue told the press, but her team expected great things of itself. They had lost Kelly Khozozian, true, and Mastroianni, and lannetta, and the other seniors. But they still had the best player in the state in Guden, who would win her third straight league MVP award and be named Division II player of the year. They had the other tri-captains, Joanna Rudalevige and Kim Boyden, leading a stellar defensive-minded squad with four returning starters. And they had a host of contributors to the ’88 championship who were ready to use that experience to step up to leadership roles. The ’89 squad had both a dream and an eagerness to work for it. It was a combination the rest of Division II would find impossible to overcome.
Early on it became clear that opponents couldn’t focus only on Guden. Lauren Khozozian continued her superlative play finishing third in the league in scoring, and a host of others made key contributions. Midfielder Amy Guggina had an all-star season, supported by juniors Meaghan Reilly and Laurel Manzelli. Heidi Holmberg, Karen Jigarjian, Patty Grady, Val Ford, and many others made offensive contributions. And underlying it all, perhaps, was the defense. As one reporter noted after the Raiders beat undefeated Lexington, “again the defense was spectacular with Rudalevige and sophomore goalie Kim Boyd leading the pack.” Indeed, in one drizzly game against Belmont. The defense did not allow a single shot on net, leading another scribe to comment, “the biggest challenge facing Boyd was keeping dry…” The Raiders gave up a grand total of four goals during the regular season – while scoring fifty-one themselves (22 by Guden and 16 by Khozozian) and shutting out their opponents an astonishing fourteen times. They never trailed in a game. They were, quite simply, dominant. The Raiders even beat the non-Watertown Middlesex League All-Star team – shutting them out, naturally by a score of 3-0. In the end, to list individual names is to miss the point – this was, above all, a team. “It takes all of us together out there,” said Donahue, “and this group understood that: they always put the team’s needs above individual needs.”
The regular season over at 17-0-1, the Raiders awaited the state tournament. But besides the venues, little else changed. Overwhelming first-round opponent Lexington Christian by a 4-0 count, and Ipswich 2-0, the Raiders seemed poised to cruise to glory. But Tyngsboro, led by all-scholastic Danielle Luongo, had other ideas. On soggy turf, the two teams battled for every loose ball. Strength met strength on both ends of the field. Then Guden took a pass from Boyden midway through the first half and snapped the ball past the Tyngsboro goalie – only to see the game tied a minute later by Luongo’s deflection past Boyd. Guden scored again, assisted by Khozozian – but with ten minutes to go, so did Luongo. It was on to overtime. And there, as the clock wound down to the two-minute mark, Patty Grady centered the ball and Khozozian hammered it home. “I was just there at the right time,” she would later explain. And with a berth in the state finals, the Raiders were in the right place once more.
They would make the most of it. The Raiders had beaten Sandwich the prior year in the state semifinals, and the Knights wanted payback. But instead a charged-up Watertown squad collectively dominated the game from the opening whistle. “A fabulous group effort,” raved one reporter. But perhaps the greatest tribute came from Sandwich coach Suzanne Ericson. “They’re a machine,” she reflected; “We had a head-on collision with a machine. I have never seen a better high school – or college – team in my life.” With the Raiders pushing the ball relentlessly Reilly opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game, with Grady adding a second just before halftime. But the 2-0 score reflected more the heroic efforts of the Sandwich goalkeeper than the game’s dynamics. And in the second half there would be no let-up: Kim Boyden got the Raiders’ third goal, Lauren Khozozian their fourth. Karen Jigarjian had two assists while the defense stifled Sandwich’s increasingly desperate press. And, appropriately, with eight minutes left, Guden would cap the season with the 80th goal of her high school career Watertown 5, Sandwich 0.
Even in an age of superlatives, then, the 1988 and 1989 squads stand out. 22-0-1 . 21-0-1 . Back to back state titles. Hyperbole is justified when the numbers speak for themselves so clearly. But it is important to remember they sprang from the women who worked so hard, and played with such joy. “They were very tough, talented, and competitive,” Donahue remembers. “And they had a lot of fun.” It’s the fusion of the two – of statistics, and soul – that makes these teams such a become addition to the Hall.