RHAM Falls to Maloney in CCC Boys Soccer Tournament Final

MIDDLETOWN-RHAM entered the CCC boys soccer tournament following a simple but sound formula: potent offense + assertive defense+ experience and great chemistry=wins. The Sachems rode this formula to victory in the tournament’s first two rounds, and looked poised to do the same in Wednesday night’s championship against Maloney-Meriden. Unfortunately for RHAM, it struggled to get on track the entire night and paid the price.

The top-seeded Sachems allowed the go-ahead goal midway through the second half and were unable to rally against the third-seeded Spartans in a 2-1 loss at Rusek-Skubel Stadium.

After RHAM tied the score early in the second on a goal by Kyle Purcell, Marcos Bozi scored the decisive goal with 21:08 remaining when he beat goalkeeper John Pilver (3 saves) in the left corner.

“I don’t think we played as well as we’re capable of,” Sachems coach Ray Bell said. “We could have done a bunch of things better, especially regarding our touch with the ball. That’s not to take anything away from Maloney. They defended very well and made good on their scoring opportunities.”

This was RHAM’s (15-2-2) second consecutive championship game loss. It fell to Farmington in the final of last season’s inaugural CCC tournament.

The team’s looked evenly matched in the first half. After Maloney (16-2-1) came away empty on early scoring opportunities, RHAM’s aggressive defense helped the offense control possession for a majority of the half. Although the Sachems kept the ball away from the Spartans, they struggled to move it up field and lacked accuracy on passes.

RHAM had a good scoring opportunity in the 16th minute, but Maloney’s Christian Kiss managed to clear a header by star midfielder Ben Lawrence and Cameron Fahey (5 saves) made a save on the rebound.

Ricardo Lopez put the Spartans ahead with 8:26 remaining in the half when he beat a pair of defenders downfield and found empty space in the far corner of the net.

RHAM tied the game 10 minutes into the second half off a well-executed set piece. Wade Titterton smashed a free kick from 40 yards out that was blocked by Fahey, but Kyle Purcell was right there and immediately knocked the rebound in. It was the first goal Maloney had allowed in nine games.

The Sachems momentum disappeared a few minutes later with Bozi’s decisive score. Ozgur Horuz found Lopez down the left sideline on a free kick from 30 yards out. He then crossed the ball to Bozi up the middle, and the senior did the rest.

RHAM increased its pressure on the Spartans defense in the game’s final minutes and found scoring opportunities, but could not break through. With 5:45 remaining, a Purcell header missed the net by just inches. Purcell experienced more frustration in the final minute when he was unable to redirect a serve into the net.

“Our offense just didn’t play well today, and we know that,” Lawrence said. “We didn’t move the ball as well as we could have. We just weren’t on today, I guess you could say.”

“I think we utilized so much energy to get the tying goal that when their second goal happened, it was like “O my god, we got to go back uphill again,”” Bell said. “We’ve rarely been down this season, so this will be a learning experience on how to handle that.”

Bell said that he was pleased the Sachems were able to generate a lot of scoring opportunities against Maloney’s elite defense.

RHAM advanced to the title game by defeating Glastonbury and Wethersfield.

“I’m very proud of us for getting here,” Lawrence said. “It’s nice to see the guys come together, especially when we trailed against Glastonbury.”

The Sachems will discover their seed and game schedule for the Class L state tournament on Friday. They ended the regular season ranked fourth in L.

“I’m very confident heading into the tournament. We’ll forgot about this game and start anew on Monday,” Bell said.

“We’re going to work hard in practice the rest of the week, and when that first tournament game comes we’ll be ready to play and hopefully win,” Lawrence said.

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