Suffield punches ticket to Class M finals

MIDDLETOWN – With just under 20 minutes remaining in the second half of the boys Class M state soccer tournament semifinal, the chants of “Perfect Season” began to cascade down from the stands filled with Suffield High fans.

A bit premature?  Maybe.

But the undefeated and top ranked Wildcats took one more big step towards perfection Tuesday night, defeating No. 12 Plainville 4-1 to advance to their third consecutive Class M final. Suffield is the two-time defending champion and now has a date with No. 14 seed and NCCC rival Ellington (14-5-1) in the championship game. The Class M final is set for Saturday at 1:30 at Falcon Field in Meriden.

Suffield’s march to a title has gone through Plainville in each of the previous two seasons. The Wildcats (19-0-0) defeated Plainville 2-0 in the Class M semifinals in 2011 and defeated the Blue Devils 1-0 in the second round of the tournament last year.

Plainville coach Tim Brown tried to mix things up a bit this time against Suffield. The Blue Devils packed their defense in tight and forced Suffield  away from the up and down, fast paced aggressive style it prefers.

The tactic paid dividends for much of the first half as Suffield was held to just three  shots on goal. The Wildcats finally broke through at the 16 minute mark of the first half when Robert Della Penna broke free and slid the ball past Plainville keeper Alex Bawol (four saves) to make it 1-0.

“We knew the longer we kept it close the better off we were going to be,’ ‘said Plainville coach Tim Brown. “One nil is not an unreasonable score at half considering our tactics. The second half though they just kind of blew it open.’’

Suffield did just that, scoring two goals in the first 5:30 of the second half.  Kyle Salters took an assist from Matthew Guminiak at 38:44 and Brent Baskin followed up shortly after with a goal at 34:30. Sean Sullivan had the assist on Baskin’s goal.

Suffield coach Mark Beigel said he was pleased with the way his team remained patient in the first half and waited for its opportunities offensively. “We didn’t quite game plan for what they had set up for us. They went with that sit back and counter and we kind of just worked through it and figured things out on the field,’ Beigel said. “We kind of started to get it (midway through  the first half) and then Robert Della Penna just saw the game at the right time and popped into it and we capitalized. It was a huge goal going into the half.’’

With the lead, Suffield was able to get back to its usual style of play and the Blue Devils were unable to keep up. Sullivan added Suffield’s final goal  with 28:20 remaining the second half to make it 4-0. Plainville only managed three shots on the goal in the game but did manage a late flurry. Nick D’Amico scored Plainville’s only goal with 3:25 remaining and the Blue Devils had another great scoring chance moments later when Shane Pugliese had a head ball in close, but it was knocked away by Suffield’s back line defense. Suffield goalkeeper Ben Woodhouse made two saves.

So now it is on to a rematch with rival Ellington which advanced to the Class M final in dramatic fashion Tuesday night, defeating Lyman Hall 1-0 on a goal with 1.7 seconds remaining.  Suffield defeated Ellington twice during the regular season (6-0, and 2-0). But no one on the Suffield side is taking the Knights lightly.

“The (regular season) scores don’t really tell us what Ellington has. They play us hard every game and being the championship game, everything changes,’’ Sullivan said. “The desire to want to win can change a game instantly so we are definitely preparing for them and it’s going to be a great game.’’

For more photos from Suffield’s semis win, click HERE

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