NCCC Showdown

ELLINGTON – A bounce. A tip. A misdirect on a corner kick.

In a highly anticipated boys soccer showdown between Suffield and Ellington Saturday night, that was about all that separated the two perennial NCCC powers.

With 6:41 remaining in the first half, Suffield senior Kevin Lancioni set up for a corner kick and fired a perfect line drive toward the box. As the players jostled for position the ball caromed off the pile and into the backside of the net just beyond the outstretched arms of Ellington goalkeeper Bailey Basset.

That was the extent of the offensive output and the Suffield defense made the goal stand on the way to a 1-0 victory over the Knights.

While there was some mild confusion as to whether the goal was an own goal or was tipped by Suffield’s Steven Lenert in the box, there was no question that this was indeed a matchup of NCCC heavyweights. Suffield improved its record to 12-0 while Ellington, which had won three in a row, dropped to 6-3-3.

“Ellington and Suffield, it’s always been good soccer,’’ said Suffield coach Mark Cervione.

Defense was the hallmark of the night and no player stood taller than Ellington’s  Bassett who made 18 saves, many of which belong on a highlight reel. After winning the Class M state title last year, the Knights graduated nearly their entire defensive backfield. The lone holdover is Bassett, and the senior continues to demonstrate why he is considered one of the state’s best at the position.

“He’s just phenomenal,’ said Ellington coach Roy Gurnon. “He has been lights out all year. He’s just a special keeper.’’

Bassett and the Knights staved off a steady barrage of Suffield scoring tries. Suffield senior Ahmed Talovic controlled play for the Wildcats on the offensive end with his nifty footwork and pinpoint passing. Ellington managed just eight shots on goal (to Suffield’s 18) and Suffield keeper Austin Mankouski was flawless in preserving the shutout.

The final score mirrored a September matchup between the teams and like the first game, the play was physical on both sides. Ellington had a number of solid opportunities to tie the score in the second half, but could not convert. Suffield also had plenty of changes to stretch its lead, but Basset refused to yield despite a couple of hard collisions on saves in front of the goal.

“I’ve got a couple bumps and bruises,’’ Bassett joked afterwards. “I wasn’t really feeling it during the game, but I’m definitely feeling it now. My defense really helped me out by communicating with me all night. That was huge.’’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *