Three Soccer Teams Advance to State Championship Games

Three local soccer teams advanced to state tournament championship games, to be played on Sunday in New Britain. In Class M boys soccer , No. 1 Ellington (20-0) will battle No. 23 Plainville (12-7-1). No. 8 Glastonbury (15-3-2) returned to to the title game in LL and a date with rival Hall (18-1-1), seeded second. On the girls side, No. 2 Tolland (17-2-0) will face No. 16 Farmington (12-4-4). A number of other teams also won multiple games in the state tournament.

BOYS SOCCER

In addition to Glastonbury and Ellington advancing to the state championship game, Tolland advanced to the quarterfinals.

In its four tournament wins, Glastonbury has not allowed a goal while scoring 10 goals. It opened with a 2-0 win against No. 25 Newington, and then won by the same score two days later against No. 9 Trumbull, with Alec Hughes scoring both goals. The Tomahawks defeated No. 16 Greenwich 1-0 in the quarters, with Hughes kicking it in again. They were great on both ends in the semifinals against No. 12 Pomperaug, winning 5-0. Zach Gardner scored twice and had an assist, and Hughes was again outstanding, scoring twice. This is the fifth LL championship game Glastonbury has made in six years.

“Defensive shape has been a focal point of our team the past few weeks. The team continues to improve in this area, but in order to be able to compete against Hall we will have to do an outstanding job in this area,” head coach Mark Landers said. “Offensively, we are best when we look to share the soccer ball and play together as a team. When we play solid defense and combine on our passes we get opportunities to score.”

Landers called Hall the best team in Connecticut, and said Glastonbury will have to have a few things go their way to win the championship.

Top-seeded Ellington lived up to its seed in the first four rounds, outscoring No. 32 Plainfield, No. 16 Windham Tech and No. 8 Windham 18-1 before dispatching No. 4 Watertown in the semis. Jimmy Maznicki had a hat trick against Plainfield, and the Knights won the next two games 6-1 and 5-0. It continued its shutout streak against Watertown, winning 1-0. Ellington last won a state championship in 2014.

“Defense has certainly been our strong suit this year and we have continued into the tournament,” head coach Roy Gurnon said. “Mitch in goal provides our backline with a consistent presence.  He has improve each year here at EHS and has had a solid tournament.  The back line of Roman, Ethan, Nick Karaja and Nick DeBaise has been solid defensively, but more importantly get our offense started, whether that is long balls out of the back, or overlapping supporting runs.”

“Offensively, it is definitely a team effort.  We have a number of players with high numbers of goals led by Jimmy and Ryan Zahner. The team has been very good at taking what the other team have given us.  Our midfielders Alex Karaja (Nick’s twin), Johnny Chamberland, Jackson Kupferschmidt and Ryan Jamieson have been very creative in their play and tenacious in winning the ball back.”

Gurnon said the team needs to continue playing strong all around to beat Plainville.

“We will need to be very good on both sides of the ball.  Plainville is a very talented team, with quality players and a very good keeper.”

No. 11 Tolland (13-4-2) defeated No. 22 Bulkeley and No. 6 Brookfield, but had its season ended against No. 3 Stonington. The Eagles edged Bulkeley 3-2. Ryan Sirois scored the game-winner with 17 minutes left, Hunter Williams scored twice, and Jack Iggott earned two saves. It shut out Brookfield 1-0, with Sirois again scoring the winner and Jacob Younge making eight saves. Stonington shut down THS in the quarters, winning 2-0.

GIRLS SOCCER

No. 2 Tolland (17-2) will compete in the L championship game on Saturday against No. 16 Farmington. Glastonbury advanced to the semifinals in LL, and Ellington the M quarterfinals.

Tolland defeated No. 15 Lauralton, No. 7 Wethersfield and No. 3 Watertown to reach the title game against Farmington, with each win coming by one goal. It took down Lauralton 3-2, with Lindsey Papa propelling the Eagles by scoring each goal and Kelsey Leach making eight saves. They then shut out Wethersfield 1-0, with Papa assisting on the winning goal by Eva Riggott. Leach made a great late save to secure the win. Against Watertown, Hannah Storozuk scored with less than five minutes remaining to secure a 2-1 victory. Alyssa Giroux assisted on both goals.

“Alyssa just put a great ball through and I just kept my eye on the back of the net and put it through,” Storozuk said.

“I feel speechless, that’s for sure,” she said, her voice cracking. “I’m excited and can’t wait for Saturday. We’re going to come up big, and hopefully go home with the victory.”

“A lot of these girls in the senior class have been playing together since third grade. That’s almost a decade. They just know where each other is going to be and who cheats and who doesn’t, and what their skills are. Finding that ball across to Hannah was just amazing,” head coach Erica Reed said. “It’s really nice to play with girls when you know what they are going to do, it’s pretty to watch.”

When asked about their chances heading into Saturday’s game, Reed and her players showed the upmost confidence.

“With our senior class, I believe we can do anything. The sky’s the limit!”, Reed said.

Top-seeded Glastonbury (17-1-1) defeated No. 16 E.O. Smith and No. 8 Newtown, but was upset 1-0 by No. 5 Staples. The Tomahawks beat E.O. Smith 3-0, with three different players scoring and Maddy Gerhardt making eight saves. Against Newtown two days later, they again recorded a shutout, this time winning 2-0. Against Staples, GHS fell behind very early and could not mount a strosng offensive attack until late, with Zoe Barnett making 10 saves. After Gerhardt got injured early, Madison Hill entered and made six hills. It was the second straight year the program lost in the semifinals.

No. 9 Ellington (14-5) defeated No. 24 Amistad and No. 8 Montville, but its season came to an end in a blowout loss to top-seeded Lewis Mills. The Knights were outstanding in the opening game, winning 6-0. It then edged Montville 1-0. Against Lewis Mills, it fell 7-0.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

RHAM made the semifinals of its tournament, while Glastonbury and Tolland advanced to the quarterfinals to all conclude great seasons.

No. 3 RHAM (18-3), the defending champion in L, defeated No. 19 Fitch 3-2 (21-25, 28-26, 23-25, 25-15, 15-12) before sweeping No. 6 Kennedy (25-15, 25-18, 25-17). Kate Santella had a remarkable 62 assists against Fitch to go along with 16 digs, while Julia Hanchin smacked 19 kills. Against Kennedy, Santella earned 34 assists, Kaylin Hadley recorded 19 kills, and Ariana Rajee obtained 19 digs. This earned a semifinal matchup with No. 2 Barlow on Wednesday.

The first two games we played well enough to win,” RHAM head coach Tim Guernsey said.  “We made some adjustments and found a way in game one to pull out a win. I thought it was going to be the push we needed to become a cohesive group, but I think it just highlighted the one area we struggled with all season and that was our ability to play as one team, with one heartbeat.”

Against an outstanding Joel Barlow team (21-1), the Sachems did not play cohesively, and they paid for it, being swept and losing each set by five points or more (25-20), 25-18), 25-18). After leading for much of the first set and taking an 18-17, RHAM was never able to get it back. Guernsey said the team was particularly inconsistent on offense. Haydley and Santella again led the team with 15 kills and 26 assists. It was Barlow’s first tournament win against RHAM after a long history of losing to them, including two years ago in the L semifinals and three state championship games in the past 11 years. This is the first time since 2012 the Sachems are not in the state finals.       

“Joel Barlow is a very good team and talented group. I felt like Barlow played with a ton more passion and energy than we did and wanted it much more,” he said. “Once Barlow got it going, there was no looking back.  We just didn’t play well enough to win. I thought are defense played well the entire match just don’t feel like offensively we did anything to give them trouble or keep them out of system. At that point of the season you need to be playing as a cohesive group and I am not sure we were as cohesive as we needed to be.”

“I just hope that the take away from this season as that the team will always be more important than any one individual and that we cannot find success as a program until we find each other, until we can learn to trust and rely on each other.”

No. 13 Glastonbury won two games in LL, including an upset of Trumbull, before falling in the quarters to No. 12 Darien. The Tomahawks (15-7) defeated No. 20 E.O. Smith 3-1 (25-19, 25-15, 25-27, 25-17), with Sydney Tennyson recording 10 kills and Emily Donofrio earning 7 aces. Glastonbury continued the momentum, defeating No. 4 Trumbull 3-1 (25-19, 25-13, 16-25, 26-24). Tennyson again smacked 10 kills, and Donofrio dove her way to 14 digs. The Tomahawks season ended with a 3-1 loss to Darien (25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 25-21).

No. 5 Tolland defeated No. 12 Brookfield in the L tournament before losing to No. 4 Bristol Eastern. The Eagles (18-4) took down Brookfield 3-1 (21-15, 25-21, 25-19, 25-20), with Cam Luginbuhl dominating with 35 kills. Tolland struggled significantly in getting swept by Bristol Eastern, losing each set by at least eight points (25-15, 25-13, 25-17). Luginbuhl hit 8 kills.

 

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