Tolland boys end Ledyard's magical post-season soccer run
Tolland — Ledyard had been to double overtime twice already this week, so one more extra session Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Class M boys' soccer state tournament wasn't necessarily the most daunting thing from a mentality standpoint.
The Colonels were plenty willing.
But to play 300 minutes in five days physically?
“Our first two games of (of the tournament) were like mirror images of each other,” Ledyard coach Bill Glenney said, “where our first half of play wasn't all that good and then the rest of the game we outplayed them.
“Today, I thought our first half was pretty good, then the second half was not our usual. … We're not the deepest of teams.”
Finding itself in overtime once again, No. 25 Ledyard finally hit a stumbling block against defending champion Tolland, the No. 16 seed. Tolland scored once in each overtime session to win 3-1 and advance to the semifinals, where the Eagles will meet No. 5 Brookfield.
Tolland's Ryan Greenberg scored the game-winner with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first 10-minute overtime period on an assist from Nick Tantillo and Jack Carmody added an insurance goal just 1:50 into the second overtime, converting a rebound off his own initial shot.
But that's not to say Ledyard — which didn't have a player on its roster who ever competed in a state tournament game — didn't have the upper hand on the scoreboard for a good portion of the game.
The Colonels, who were hot at precisely the opportune time of the season, led 1-0 on a goal about midway through the first half by Trevor Hutchins on an assist from Owen Wheeler. Hutchins got to a ball resting in front of the Tolland goal and slammed it into the right corner.
Ledyard had a shot opportunity shortly thereafter, too, on a direct kick by Nate McCracken which sailed over a wall of defenders and forced Eagles goalie Kyle Boutot to deflect it. The rebound bounced to the Colonels but was headed over the net.
But that was about it for Ledyard on the Tolland side of the field.
Tolland, which moved Greenberg forward from center back, began surrounding the Ledyard net with shots that were just off target or saved by Colonels keeper Garrick Prior (seven saves). Ledyard held a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Tolland (13-4-2) didn't tie the game until it was awarded a penalty kick 7:47 into the second half.
Greenberg was dribbling in the right hand corner of the field, adjacent to the goal, when he tried to turn and fell to the ground. The ruling was a foul, resulting in a penalty kick for the Eagles. Carmody converted, tying things 1-1.
“We had shots that were high and wide and into the post and this and that,” Tolland coach Mike Caccomo said. “We had a ton of chances. We were confident. When we choose to have a relentless attack, we're hard to play against."
AJ Genova, Ledyard's center back and a part of the reason Tolland had so many misses Saturday, is one of eight seniors who played their final game for the Colonels. He was part of a team which finished 4-12 last season.
“This group of guys hadn't made the tournament in four years,” Genova said. “Everyone pulled through for us. We put in a lot of work during the summer. … Whatever gets you there.”
Glenney labeled this “one of the sweetest state tournament losses I've ever had.”
“If you would have told me at the beginning of the season, we would have a 1-0 lead on the defending Class M state champion with 32 minutes to play, I probably would have laughed at you,” Glenney said. “It sucks to lose, but this last week has been awesome for them and to come here and leave their hearts on the field … we were one step away.”
Stories that may interest you
Hannah Smith pitched a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts as Norwich Tech beat Wolcott Tech 3-2 in a Connecticut Technical Conference softball tournament quarterfinal on Monday.
Allyson Lewis was seeded second in the long jump at Monday's Eastern Connecticut Conference track and field championships.
A flashback to indoor track season came about an hour before Monday's ECC outdoor track championship when Norwich Free Academy boys' coach Tom Teixeira was still on the bus.
The following athletes have been selected 2019 Eastern Connecticut Conference award winners in boys' and girls' lacrosse, and girls' tennis: