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Montville boys rally to win ECC soccer title

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published November 07. 2012 4:00AM
Tim Cook/The Day
Bacon Academy's L.J. Luster (1) and Montville's Josh Handler collid as they battle for possession during Tuesday night's ECC boys' soccer tournament final at Montville High School. The Indians ralliled from a 2-0 halftime deficit to hand Bacon its first loss, 3-2.

Montville - It was Bacon Academy 2, Montville 0. Halftime. That was undefeated Bacon. That was exhausted Montville, not 24 hours removed from an evening of overtimes, penalty kicks and bouts with heartburn and anxiety in the semifinals.

So maybe not even the most ardent Montville optimist ever saw this one coming:

Three goals in 20 minutes and an eventual 3-2 win Tuesday night, delivering the Eastern Connecticut Conference boys' soccer tournament championship to the Indians, to the delight of their packed bleachers.

Their field, their title, their night.

Jeff Tryon scored twice in the first 17 minutes of the second half and Connor Leeman won it three minutes later, handing Bacon its first loss of the season. Montville and Bacon have 17-1 records.

"This ranks probably right up at the top," Tryon said. "My sophomore year we tied in the (state) finals and that wasn't good. Last year, we lost in the (state) semifinals. We can celebrate this for a couple of days. Then we have the state tournament."

Tryon's second goal came from 25 yards out, a bullet tucked high into the net to goalkeeper Connor McHugh's right.

Leeman's goal looked very much like it, also from about 25 yards out.

"Jeff always tells me to get the heck out of the way," Leeman said. "This time, I said, 'I got this.' Jeff let me take it and I put it in the right spot."

Leeman and Tryon agreed that coach Colin Delaney was anything but loud at halftime, despite the deficit. Maybe there's a measure of serenity when you get to trot Tryon and Leeman out there.

"Connor and Jeff are two of the better players in the state," Delaney said. "I can't say enough about how hard they've worked in the last four years. It's unmatched. They're our two horses and we rely on them. At the same time, we have 15, 16, 17 guys around them who make them better."

Among them is the Montville defense, which kept goalkeeper Jake Sorenson unoccupied for most of the night, especially after Bacon's two early goals. Delaney made special mention of junior Gabe Diaz, who played the game with a contusion in his leg.

"Defense was our project," Delaney said. "It's a testament to these guys to be coachable. We're fortunate to have a good goalkeeper, but I'd rather he touched the ball never. And 90 percent of Gabe Diaz is probably better than 100 percent of most of the guys out there."

Colin Gottlieb and freshman L.J. Luster gave Bacon the early lead.

"Not to make excuses, but we came out flat," Delaney said. "Emotionally, the boys were a little frazzled. They scored on two set pieces and I think we knew better.

"Looking back, I don't remember the last time we lost on this field," he said. "That was part of it. Our home, our house, take care of business. Plus, we lost at their place (1-0 on a penalty kick) and it left a bad taste."


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