Matt Conyers is a very smart man.
The Hartford Courant writer previewed today’s state final this morning. After noting the 2 teams’ pedigrees — Staples was the defending Class LL champion, while the Indians won it the year before; the Wreckers had 12 state titles, Farmington 8 — he wrote:
If you’re a fan of Connecticut high school soccer, there’s no way you can’t love this match-up….This is the game.
There will undoubtedly be a packed crowd, the soccer will be great and the result will be one we talk about for a long time….
I think Farmington takes the early lead on one of their patented counters….But Staples is pretty good at, well, everything. So I don’t expect them to be thrown back on their heels. There will be a lot of pressing and a lot of opportunities….So yes, the Indians take the lead but for how long?
I expect a 1-1 game with about 30 minutes left. Staples is just too good to get shut out. Farmington’s defense will be taken to the limits and how they handle it might prove to be the deciding factor. But goalie Austin Peluso has been his best these last three weeks….
It should be crazy in the final 15 minutes and whoever survives will be your champion.
No, Matt Conyers is more than very smart. He’s brilliant. Everything he said about today’s game is true — and he wrote it before it happened.
Sean Gallagher’s take-no-prisoners tackle 1 minute in on hard-charging Farmington showed that both teams came to play on the small Waterbury Municipal Stadium turf. After a bit of cat-and-mouse, the Wreckers slowly took charge.
It was not by much — but with the swarming defense of Gallagher, Frankie Bergonzi, Jake Malowitz, Steven Denowitz and Court Lake holding dangerous Yale-bound Kevin Michalak and Adrian Kukula at bay, the Wreckers had a bit of the edge in pace and possession.
Staples had chances. Gallagher’s free kick was headed just high. Brendan Lesch sent Mikey Scott through in the box.
But in the 30th minute Michalak hit Kukula from the right side. The ball split the seams, then was slotted nicely inside the post for a solid 1-0 lead.
The Westporters opened the 2nd half attacking the north goal — with the sun in Peluso’s eyes. Scott worked his magic twice, and Lorenz Esposito nearly snuck one in. Midway through the half Malowitz fed Scott. Again Peluso saved well.
In the 62nd minute — not long after Conyers’ 30-minutes-to-go prediction — Jake Krosse laced a free kick from the left. It seemed to sail too far to be dangerous, but it stayed in play. When it rebounded just past the top of the box, the left-footed Lake slammed a shot home — with his right.
Staples — mindful of coach Tom Henske’s adage “goals follow goals!” — attacked with relish. But the Indians got a call on one of their patented counters. It was dangerous territory: just beyond the box, dead on.
Michalak sliced a Premiership strike. It sailed over the wall, into the far left corner — a first-class goal.
Less than 15 minutes remained in the match.
Staples went immediately to 3 forwards. They’d trained for just such a possibility the day before. But Farmington’s defense was equal to the task. They repelled every foray, creating enough chances of their own to keep the Wrecker defense honest.
Conyers was right. The 15 final minutes were crazy.
Farmington survived. And, for the 2nd time in 3 years, they are LL champions. Final score: Farmington 2, Staples 1. Season record: 20-3-1.
QUICK KICKS: According to the Hartford Courant, Staples outshot Farmington 14-3…
Head coach Dan Woog praised the victors after the match as “a very, very worthy champion. This was a great game to be part of. Farmington did exactly what they needed to to win, on both sides of the ball. Their program is so well known and respected for good reason. Our hats are off to the 2010 champs.”…
Four seniors — Frankie Bergonzi, Sean Gallagher, Greg Gudis and Brendan Lesch — played their last match after 4 years on varsity. Three others — Steven Denowitz, Jake Krosse and Mike Scott, are 3-year varsity players. Their record over those 3 years is 63-7-1. They leave with 3 FCIAC championships, 1 state title, and 1 runner-up trophy….
Other graduating seniors include Ryan Armour, AJ Green, Court Lake, Felipe Troncoso and Connor Walsh. Returnees in 2011 include juniors Lars Aanestad, Dylan Evans, Max Hoberman, Jake Malowitz, Taylor McNair, Will Meinke, Ben Root, Steven Smith and Alex Tonsberg, and sophomores Harry Birch, Lorenz Esposito, James Hickok and Dylan Hoy….
A new format would have been used had the game gone into overtime. After 2 10-minute overtimes played to completion — as during other tournament games — the teams would have played 2 more 10-minute overtimes to the end. That could have meant 40 minutes of OT, before co-champions were declared….
After losing 1-0 to Central on Sept. 20, Staples went on a 19-0-1 tear before today. Farmington’s last loss was Oct. 7, to Tolland….
In 2006 Staples ousted Farmington in the quarterfinal state tournament round. The match ended 0-0; the Wreckers won on penalty kicks, 9-7. Farmington was undefeated at that point, ranked #3 in the nation….
The Wreckers wore their home white today, as the top remaining seed in the tournament (#5). The Indians were 6th.