Ellington takes first meeting with Rockville

By Steve Smith

ELLINGTON – The Rockville Rams boys soccer team got a quick taste of life in the uber competitive North Central Connecticut Conference Friday.  Perennial power and 2016 Class M state tournament runner-up Ellington jumped out to an early lead and continued to tack on scores on the way to a convincing 3-0 victory over Rockville.

This is Rockville’s first season in the NCCC after moving over from the Central Connecticut Conference.

Ellington wasted no time taking control as sophomore Ryan Zahner scored ust five minutes into the game. Six minutes later, fellow sophomore Jimmy Maznicki (a standout as a freshman in last year’s post-season) added a score from what looked like a less-than-advantageous position.

“Once I got the ball, all I could think about was getting to the end line, and I was one-on-three or one-on-four. Once I got past the first guy, the second guy cut off the passing lane, so it left me with the last choice of taking the shot,” Maznicki said.

Rockville played the Knights tough, matching possession time for much of the game. Second year coach Johnny El-Hachem said he was pleased with the effort his players gave, despite the loss.

“I think their confidence, and their belief that they can win, still isn’t there yet,” he said. “Formation-wise, we looked pretty good. I don’t know if it’s fitness or jitters. I think my team is still a little bit young and we’re growing. I think it’s definitely in the right direction, but it’s not there yet.”

Ellington Senior Alex Domingos added the third goal in the 11th minute of the second half to ice the victory for the Knights, but coach Roy Gurnon said it’s far too early in the season for his squad to have found their identity yet.

“There are nine new players on the team, and we have a lot of guys back, but every time you get a new mixture, it’s a different team,” Gurnon said, adding that his team played well at times, but could have put the game away by an even larger margin.

“We connected sometimes, but it wasn’t really consistent,” he said. “Rockville worked hard, but we didn’t break them down, either. We should have made it more difficult for them.”

Rockville was also hampered by a few injuries. The Rams brought just 15 players of its 20-man roster, and four were injured in the match. The new conference, the coach said, wasn’t very welcoming, as the Rams had to face Suffield, Somers and Ellington in its first three games, all of which have won state titles within the past four years.

“It gave us a test, and gave us an idea of where we are as a team,” El-Hachem said. “I think we learned some stuff about ourselves.”

Ellington next faces Classical Magnet at home on Sept. 22. Rockville’s next match is at Classical Magnet on Sept. 18. Ellington heads to Rockville for a rematch on Oct. 13.

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