KP (13-4-1) came into the game as the second best team in the Hockomock League, but that didnâ€™t seem to faze the #11-seeded Dragons (12-6), who came into the tournament on a three-game winning streak with little fanfare.
A senior-laden KP squad had its adrenalin flowing early, as leading scorers Joel Diamond and Chris Brennan put the pressure on the Duxbury defense right away and forced a corner in the first 75 seconds.
A great defensive play by sophomore defender Brett Sahlberg saved a goal in the first few minutes, as the hosts continued to fire away on netminder Dan McManus with little success.
Both teams would trade corners midway through the first half, with Duxburyâ€™s rattling off the near post. But the best Dragon scoring bid would come at 14:10 on a feed to Dan Sangster inside the box. that was stopped by keeper Tyler Marra.
With 7:07 remaining the Dragons were awarded a direct kick right along the goal line, as Jimmy Landry was pushed from behind. But the impossible angle made a serious scoring bid hopeless, as the rest of the half produced little for either squad.
Confidence was building on the Duxbury bench with 40 minutes left to play, and momentum was clearly on its side less than six minutes into the second half when senior forward Joe Carroll scored what proved to be the winning goal.
A throw-in to Marraâ€™s left found Sangster in the middle of the box, where his header was directed toward Carroll, who managed to head it off a KP defender and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
A stunned KP squad took a while to get its head together, and when it did, McManus and the Duxbury defense were under intense pressure from the midway point of the second half on.
After McManus went to the ground for a save with 15 minutes remaining, the Dragons countered with a thrust of their own, as Morgan Dwinnell came flying down the right wing and nailed a shot over Marra and the crossbar.
KP countered and moved up field quickly, with Diamond sending a pass from right to left that was headed by Kevin Pimental back toward the right post, where it narrowly missed going in with 8:02 left on the clock.
A pair of King Philip corners with less than four minutes remaining tested McManus once again, but the senior netminder came up with a big save on the second one and Coach John Tocci felt the need to call a timeout and kill the hostâ€™s momentum.
With 2:29 to go, the Dragons stepped back onto the field, unaware that McManus would be called on one more time to save the day.
A minute remained, as Diamond unloaded a shot from just outside the box that was headed for the right corner, only to have McManus dive across and deflect it past the post for a KP corner.
With the defense up, Duxbury broke from their zone, sending the ball up field and into the middle of the box where Zach Gino settled it in a maze of players. His feed to Sangster was right on the money, as the junior forward nailed his shot to Marraâ€™s right, catching the left corner of the net to put the game away.
â€œIâ€™ve described this team and season as being Jekyl and Hyde,â€ said Tocci. â€œI always give these kids a grade and after the first half I thought we played a B-minus and they agreed. In the second half they brought it up to a B+. Overall we played well and weâ€™ll see what happens next time.â€