Ellington comes up short in Class M final

By Kevin Hayes

At first glance the Class M boys soccer championship game between No. 23 ranked Plainville and No. 1 Ellington seemed like a mismatch of epic proportions. But as one of the oldest axioms in sports would suggest – that’s why they play the games.

And when the actual game started it was all Blue Devils. Plainville dominated play at both ends and finally broke through with a goal midway through the second half on the way to a stunning 1-0 upset of the top ranked Knights at Veterans Stadium, Sunday.

It was Plainville’s first ever state soccer title and Ellington’s second consecutive loss in the Class M title game.

The Blue Devils came into the game with seven regular season losses (13-7-1) and needed overtime to squeak by second ranked Granby in the semifinals. Ellington (20-1) was undefeated and had outscored its opponents 19-1 on the way to its second straight Class M championship game berth.

But the Knights pursuit of perfection fell short as Plainville’s speed and aggressiveness proved to be too much. Ellington’s defense did its best to push back on the relentless Plainville attack and goal keeper Mitch LaForge came up with multiple acrobatic saves to keep the Knights hopes alive.

But with 11:50 remaining in the second half Plainville’s Dane Stevens found James Raucci open on a break and Raucci converted with the game-winner.

As some of the Ellington players laid on the field struggling to process the loss, LaForge offered some perspective. “We did not get the result we wanted but we played a great 80 minutes,’’ LaForge said. “It is an experience tht I know I will look back on for the rest of my life and one of the many great stories that I will get to tell my kids about playing for Ellington soccer.’’

Plainville coach Tim Brown credited his team’s difficult regular season schedule in the CCC with preparing the Blue Devils for this tournament run. Plainville established the tempo right away and put up a steady barrge of pressure on the Ellington defense.

The Knights best scoring chance might have come just minutes before Raucci’s goal when junior Ryan Zahner picked up a loose ball and had a chance for a breakaway. But Zahner was not able to get complete control before Plainville’s defense closed in and forced him to rush the shot.

The Knights have a number of underclassmen and may very well be back in the same position next year. But regardless of what happens LaForge said this season is one that is not soon to be forgotten.

“We still had an amazing season and we can’t forget that,’’ LaForge said. “It has been an honor and a blessing to be part of such a great group of guys and having the opportunity to call them teammates is an honor.’’

 

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