Wildcats shutout Knights for 3rd straight championship

MERIDEN — There are many impressive stats from the Suffield boys soccer team’s 2-0 Class M state championship win against Ellington Saturday afternoon.

But the most impressive number is not the three straight titles the soccer powerhouse has accumulated in as many years. And it is not their perfect 20-0 record this season.

It isn’t the spectacular play from senior captain Sean Sullivan, No. 2, or from the captain of the defense Colin McFarlane, No. 17.

The most impressive statistic comes from the senior class, which has arguably done more for Suffield soccer than any that preceded it. It’s their record: 72-4-2.

“It definitely doesn’t get old, it gets better,” Suffield head coach mark Beigel said. “We are lucky, this school and community is lucky. This group of seniors is an unbelievable group of guys. To accumulate a 72-4-2 record, that doesn’t happen very often. To somehow pull off three state championships in a row, it hasn’t happened since the 80’s. They really set the tone for future generations in terms of the tradition of our program. They will be up on the wall of the auditorium for a long time.”

Suffield wasted little time working towards state title No. 6 for the boys soccer program.

Accumulating six shots on goal in the first half to Ellington’s two, the Wildcats struck on a Derek Zarzycki goal off a Jack Moriarty assist.

“It was a great service by Jack Moriarty and Derek was there on the far post,” Beigel said. “I tell all our guys make sure you get there. Every day on this team we are deep, a different guy getting it done.”

The second half was more of the same, as the Wildcats pounded out nine shots on goal and broke through for a second score off the foot of Brett Baskin.

Ellington played Suffield tough, and thanks to 12 solid saves from goaltender Bailey Bassett, the Knights were able to keep themselves in the game.

“He had a great tournament,” Ellington head coach Roy Gurnon said. “We went through a little thing in the middle of the year when we pulled Bailey from the goal but he has come back really strong. He made some great decisions. For a sophomore in this kind of situation, that’s pretty impressive.”

The Knights entered the tournament as the No. 14 seed, and quickly pieced together a cinderella story defeating higher seeds in Lewis Mills and Montville en route to their title bout against Suffield, who had already beaten Ellington twice during the NCC regular season.

“It’s awesome when guys just decide to work hard for each other,” a proud Gurnon said. “Collectively we started moving the ball a little bit better, James [Costanzo] had some terrific goals during the tournament. I think we used the ball better as the tournament started. I thought our defense was really solid with Baily and the four backs as well.

“If you have to lose the last game and you’re in the state finals, against a team like that, what can you say?”

Suffield was dominant not only offensively but also on defense, as proven by the game’s eventual MVP, sweeper Colin McFarlane.

“It was who I would have picked actually,”Beigel said. “I think in the first half he showed his poise. He calms everyone down. As good as our offense is, we are able to have that because we are able to possess the ball. It was well deserved and it’s a guy who doesn’t get a lot of recognition.”

McFarlane set the tone early as a field general, leading by example and by making smart decisions with the ball. He also helped keep the ball in the offensive zone for most of both halves.

“I would definitely say we had a solid defense this year,” the senior said. “I wasn’t happy that I had to play sweeper because they wouldn’t be pressuring me at all. I kept my cool back there and tried to move it up the field as good as I could.”

For McFarlane and eight other departing seniors, the victory is validation of their legacy, and will surely help to fuel the Wildcats soccer program for years to come.

“Suffield soccer is a deep soccer tradition,” Beigel said. “This is a really talented class, a talented junior class a deep program, and they are in there with the rest of them. Everyone believes in the tradition and the torch keeps getting passed from graduating class to graduating class. Every class leaves a bit of its legacy.”

With so many great memories to choose from, McFarlane says this final dance, as a senior captain was the best.

“This one was better,” McFarlane said. “Definitely more special for me. My senior year. I have been apart of it since my sophomore year and a bigger role my junior year but to be a captain with Sean [Sullivan] and Ben [Woodhouse], this one was the best.”

For many more Ellington and Suffield photos from Saturday’s Championship game, click HERE!

Photos by Erika Studer

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