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Things looked good for much of the Class LL state tournament’s opening round for host Newtown High School’s boys’ soccer team. Until Fairfield Warde came from behind to force overtime, eventually prevailing 3-2 on penalty kicks, at Blue & Gold Stadium, on November 6.
The fourth-seeded Nighthawks carried a 2-0 lead into halftime, and held that advantage until No. 29 Warde scored twice in a ten-minute span in the mid to late stages of the second half to send the game into OT. After a pair of mostly uneventful ten-minute overtime stanzas, the game went to penalty kicks.
Both teams scored on each of its five kicks in the opening round, and the first three attempts in round two. Then, Newtown goalkeeper CJ Trivers (six saves during regulation and OT) made a diving stop on his counterpart when Warde keeper Cormac O’Day took a turn and was denied.
In the bottom half of the fourth round, Newtown was also denied. Warde scored on its fifth attempt, and Newtown missed on a chance to force a third round of PKs.
Owen Baillargeon, James Barden, Jack Oltran, Brendan O’Hara, Tom Skrelja, Jack Vaughan, Tom Shkreli, Tom Skrelja, and Hunter Procaccini all scored during the two rounds of penalty kicks.
During regulation, Oltran was assisted by Baillargron, and Nick Weiland one-timed a corner kick feed from O’Hara, the latter goal coming just over a minute before halftime.
“Tonight was kind of a microcosm of the whole season,” Newtown Coach Nick Booth said. “In big games we’ve had trouble winning these or closing them out.”
Leading 2-0 at the break, Newtown was in position to close it out and advance, the coach said.
“You have to get that done and we didn’t,” Booth said.
The setback certainly wasn’t for lack of effort. After seizing the lead, the Hawks did a good job of playing to their strength, possessing the ball. Warde’s first goal came seemingly out of nowhere as Newtown had controlled the play for several minutes before the visitors cashed in a rare second-half chance. Warde, as Booth noted, was a deceptive seed given it plays in the tough FCIAC.
“I’m disappointed for the guys. They’re a good bunch,” Booth said.
The season, on the whole, was not a disappointment. Newtown went 12-2-2 during the regular season, then won the South-West Conference tournament quarterfinal-round game before losing in the semis.
“I think it’s been a really good year,” said Booth, who finished his first season coaching the team. “They worked really hard; I’m proud of them.”