Indians headed to second straight finals

WATERBURY — For the second consecutive season, the Farmington boys soccer team got an 8-seed in the Class L tournament. For the second consecutive season, performances from Colin Cheesman and Jeff Crook helped lift the team to a finals berth. Last year, the Indians won it all. This year, after a convincing 4-0 win over Pomperaug Wednesday night, the team has a chance to repeat history again.

“It feels even better the second time,” Cheesman said, one of the heroes in the big semifinals win.

The senior scored the first two goals for the Indians, both inside the first 20 minutes. He also had four other shots on goal during the same span, helping to put a whole lot of pressure on Pomperaug early.

“He’s been relatively steady all year,” Farmington head coach Steve Waters said. “He has had some unlucky sequences, but when Cheesman’s on, we’re on.”

Clearly Cheesman was on, scoring his first goal at the 21:03 mark with help on an assist from Guido Shultz.

“He’s competitive,” Waters said of Cheesman, “and he’s focused. Those two things will help a quality player at important times.”

A few minutes later, the Pomperaug goalie tripped up an attacking Indian, giving Cheesman an opportunity to shoot a penalty kick. Cheesman took advantage.

“We watched some video on the keeper,” Cheesman said of the goal, “so we knew which way he usually goes and I went the other way.”

With a 2-0 advantage at the break, Farmington had the breathing room it needed to put the game away headed down the stretch. It also gave some valuable rest to the Indians’ star players.

“Having those two goals at the half, we got to rest some guys who had a yellow card here or there,” Waters said. “And some of the guys we put in, I’d say eight out of 10 of the guys we put in did a nice job filling in the holes and playing a good game.”

After a fantastic save by Indians’ keeper Crook, Matt Sroka added an unassisted goal with just under a half hour to play. Then four minutes later, Sabri Akter added another goal, giving Farmington a 4-0 edge with the Panthers’ season dwindling away.

But even with a four-goal victory and a trip to face Joel Barlow Saturday in the Class L finals, the Indians know they can get even better.

“Our defense did well, our offense did well,” Cheesman started, “but I don’t think it’s necessarily the best game we can play. We did well with our opportunities but we could have capitalized more.”

Someone who certainly capitalized was Crook, who made big save after big save in net.

“He has worked hard over the off season, Jeff has,” Waters said. “We worked with him hard last year and played all year last year. He also played in the championship last year, he will play in it this year. He had some soft times in the net but overall he has been solid and came up outside of the box to grab some of those high balls.”

Cheesman and his teammates know how important a solid presence in net is, and the hard work put in by Crook will surely show dividends in the final Saturday.

“It means a lot knowing that he has our back every game,” Cheesman said. “He does well every game, comes out ready play, and it’s comforting.”

For the defending champion Indians, last year will have to stay in the past for a few more days, as the title of “back-to-back” is still 80 minutes away.

“Last year was last year,” the coach said. “It’s another game in front of us and that’s all we do. One competition at a time.”

Photos by Erika Studer

For more photos from Farmington’s Semis win, click HERE


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