The Pomperaug Panthers boys soccer team defeated the Trumbull Eagles 2-1 in the Class LL state championship game held at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven. The Panthers, coming into this match as the number one seed in the tournament, and ranked #7 in the nation according to the National Soccer Coaches of America poll on November 22, had all they could handle from the seventh seeded Eagles.
Set pieces were pivotal to the Panthers success on the night, as both of their goals came off of restarts of play. Pomperaug capitalized on a free kick in the fourth minute, when senior Taylor Ellsworth headed a kick from senior Richard Pitman into the back of the net for an early lead. Ellsworth, would be named MVP of the game.
That lead would hold up going into the intermission, and the Panthers looked to have the same fast start going into the final 40 minutes of their season. Pomperaug was able to get quick pressure on the Eagles net, forcing a corner kick in the 43rd minute of play. Pitman took the kick, and he delivered a ball to the far post and found senior Michael Burke who gave the Panthers the 2-0 lead with plenty of time to play.
The Eagles, knowing they now needed at least two scores, picked up their tempo and pressured the Panthers for most of the remaining 37 minutes of play. The sustained pressure resulted in three consecutive corner kicks for the Eagles at the 50 minute mark. They also forced a number of throw-ins deep in the Pomperaug end. The Panther defense, led by senior keeper Zachary Goodridge who made several key saves, kept the Eagles off the board until the 60 minute mark.
The Eagles put pressure on again around the 60th minute, when an Eagles player streaked through the 18 yard box. He was taken down by a slide tackle from senior Nicholas Lasewicz, which set up a penalty kick. Anthony Texiera took the kick for the Eagles and scored on a low shot to the right side of the net, just past a sprawling Goodridge, who guessed correctly on the shot placement. The Eagles had new life, down one goal with twenty minutes to play.
While the Eagles pressured and had their opportunities to tie the game, the Panther defense held strong, and came home with the first boys soccer state title in school history, with a 2-1 win.
With Trumbull carrying the play at times, coach Joe Mancini knew he had to keep his team focused. “40 minutes can seem like 80 when you’re up. We just had to keep working hard. And good things will happen. Stay positive and stay in the game.”
The team sprinted across the field to celebrate with their fans to cap off what will always be a memorable season for the Panthers.
“I can’t describe it. It is unbelieveable. The kids worked so hard all season long. With the strength and conditioning, so it is nice when it all pays off, “ said Mancini.
“When we went to the SWC finals, it was a wake up call that we lost to Bunnell 4-0. It really opened our eyes and it showed us we weren’t invincible,” said senior goalie Zachary Goodridge.
“Going into the second half we had a “shut them down” mentality. It helped that we scored the second goal five minutes in,” said Goodridge.
“I think they realized that this was their last game and they wanted to leave everything on the field. Fortunately we did too. I am stunned right now. It is our senior year, it is a great way to go out,” he added.
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.Write a new post...What do you want to share?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something