Knights headed to finals…again!

By Matt Stevens

WINDSOR – A game that initially looked like it was going to be a runaway victory ultimately turned into an overtime thriller. And when it was done, the Ellington boys soccer team had punched its ticket to the CIAC Class M tournament finals for the second time in three seasons.

The 18th seeded Purple Knights defeated No. 3 Granby 4-3 on a rainy, cold night at Windsor High Tuesday night.

Ellington scored the first three goals of the game that started with about 30 minutes of rain. The first was by Zackary Kindall with 32:19 to go in the first half, off of a corner kick. The second was from Adi Chakravarthy with 4:25 left in the first half. Ellington’s third goal was also off of a corner, as Erik Nordmark flicked the ball with his head over Bears goalie Zachary Dibella, with 31:57 to go in the second half.

The Knights appeared to be cruising to victory, but Granby rallied with three late goals of its own.

Granby’s Adam Holden scored the Bears’ first goal with just 16:24 in regulation. Just 31 seconds later, it was a 3-2 game, when Granby’s #11 (Gorman) popped another into the net. With just 6:30 remaining, Holden scored again, tying the match at 3.

With 6:42 to go in the first 10-minute overtime period, freshman Jimmy Maznicki found the ball at his feet, 30 yards out, and decided to take a shot on goal that looped over Dibella and into the top corner.

“We played Granby twice this year. The goalie was never standing on his line. I knew that coming into the game. I waited for the opportunity to get the ball up over his head, and that’s exactly what I did,” Maznicki said.

 

Ellington coach Roy Gurnon said he wasn’t expecting that drama before Granby started scoring.

“Granby put on a heck of a performance in that 20 minutes,” he said. “It seemed like 100 minutes. They were just everywhere. We couldn’t string a pass together because of them, sort of like we played in the first half, when we were extremely dangerous. I think we could have had a few more goals.”

Gurnon said that losing a three-goal lead, having it go into overtime, and then pulling out a win said a lot about his team’s mental toughness.

“For kids in high school to do that is pretty impressive,” he said, adding that he told his team, before overtime, that they were capable of winning.

“I told them, ‘you can do this,’” he said. “It doesn’t matter if the score is 3-3, let’s go out and play.”

“That was a great goal by Jimmy,” Gurnon said. “That was a BB. A great hit.”

After that, Gurnon said, his team re-gained its composure and was able to play some of its best defense of the season for the final 16 minutes.

At the midpoint of the regular season, few would have predicted that Ellington would make it to the finals. The Knights were 4-5-1 before going on a 9-game shutout streak through the tournament quarterfinals. The coach said it was due to the team committing themselves.

“They really do a lot of the little things,” he said. “It’s not about each player, it’s about the group. I really think they sacrifice a lot, in those terms.”

He added that his players frequently, but willingly, play different positions if it helps the team, and the players who know they won’t get into a game, but still do everything they can.

“I think that’s important to the success,” he said.

Ellington will play 5-seed Brookfield in the Class M finals on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

erik-nordmark-leaps-in-the-air-to-celebrate-his-goal ellington-freshman-jimmy-maznicki-who-scored-the-games-winning-goal-tries-to-play-the-ball-away-from-a-granby-defender knights-celebrate-win ellingtons-jacob-fournier-tries-to-control-the-ball-and-get-past-granbys-adam-holden

Leave a Reply

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