Bush’s redirection from close range capped off a perfectly executed set piece and gave Classical its fourth championship in five seasons. The Purple added their second Division II title in three years to the back-to-back Division III crowns they took home in 2010 and 2011.
“They pay attention to detail,” Classical coach Ryan Cafferty said. “That’s who they are at Classical — they pay attention to detail and they work really hard.”
The only goal Classical needed came when the Purple drew a foul deep in the right corner. Saleem Kamarah took the kick and played it away from the West Warwick cage, setting up Austin Clark for a seemingly harmless shot from 30 yards.
That was only the beginning of the sequence. The Wizards’ defense relaxed and Bush escaped his marker, touching the ball into the upper right corner. West Warwick goalkeeper Matt Grenier had no chance.
“I knew the play was designed for the defender to come in and shoot it,” Bush said. “I just thought, ‘He’s probably going to get it on target, but maybe not in the goal.’ I gave it a flick with my foot and luckily it went in.”
West Warwick was left with 12 minutes to match the offensive output against Classical over the last two months. The Purple allowed a single goal after Sept. 12, that coming in a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Toll Gate. Classical shut out 15 of its final 16 opponents.
“We don’t take risks at certain times,” Cafferty said. “We’ve been lucky. You have those years when 50 of them go in.”
The Wizards (13-3-3) nearly broke the scoreless tie just moments after halftime. Michael Faria’s chip from long range left Classical goalkeeper Noah Kim scrambling toward his goal line. Kim parried the shot over the crossbar with his right hand, the most difficult of his seven saves.
“That’s something I’ve really worked on over the past few years,” Kim said. “It was great to be able to make that save.”
“He did an awful lot,” Cafferty said. “He’s been clutch. He comes up big.”
Classical (14-1-4) enjoyed the only two real chances in the first half, both coming from Bush. His one-touch effort from the center of the box off a pass from Kamarah forced a sharp save from Grenier in the ninth minute.
Bush’s left-footed volley two minutes before the break caught Grenier losing his footing as he moved to his left, but the Wizards’ junior recovered in time to stop the shot.
“We knew they were going to come out hard because it’s the state finals,” Kim said. “We wanted to come out and match their intensity and we were able to do it.”
The loss was West Warwick’s second straight in a final. The Wizards lost in the Division III championship match last season and are still searching for their first title since winning the now-defunct Division IV in 2004.
Classical’s recent experience at season’s end has been the exact opposite, with Cafferty crediting the city’s youth ranks for producing a steady stream of players. Most of the Purple’s standouts started under Simon Kue with Providence’s Capital Youth Soccer Association.
“The community just creates such great players in the city,” Cafferty said. “We feel very lucky that we’re able to get them here to Classical to play for us.”
CLASSICAL (1): Sam Bush; assist — Austin Clark. WEST WARWICK (0): No scoring.
Halftime — 0-0. Saves — Matt Grenier, WW, 4; Noah Kim, C, 7.
All-Tournament Team — Matt Ciullo and Michael Doody, Mount St. Charles; Billy McCormick and Alberto Rovello, Westerly; Mike Faria, Matt Grenier and Chris Peixoto, West Warwick; Austin Clark, Saleem Kamarah and William O’Gara, Classical.