State of the union: Stonington boys' soccer is crowned ECC champion

Stonington — Paul deCastro had plenty to say to his boys in his postgame state of the union late Wednesday afternoon. But before all the technical stuff came the relevant news of the day in The Land Of Brown And White:

“The banner,” deCastro said, “is going up.”

Indeed it is.

And the newest banner in the Stonington High School gym will read thusly: “2017 Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II Boys’ Soccer Champs.”

It wasn’t easy. But the still undefeated Bears rallied from a 2-0 deficit to edge Bacon Academy 3-2 and earn its first division title since 2002 before a sizeable crowd on Stonington’s back soccer field. The Bears (13-0-1, 8-0-1), who normally play on the turfed football field, were bumped to the back because of the annual Powder Puff football game.

But, alas, the celebration, on real grass instead of synthetic turf, was quite enjoyable.

“We have three goals as a team,” senior Cam Whalen said. “This was one of them. We had a rough start, but nobody got down on each other.”

The Bears trailed 2-0 early thanks to two goals from Bacon’s Tyler Donovan. The first came on a penalty kick after a hand ball violation in the box.

“Maybe we were a little nervous at the beginning,” deCastro said. “A combination of things.”

Jamison Magowan made it 2-1 late in the first half, scoring on a direct kick. He tied it 2-2 early in the second half on a penalty kick. And Jack Cullen gave the Bears the lead for good a minute later with a nifty header.

It should be noted that both of Stonington’s goals in the second half came in the first 10 minutes, during which a blinding sun was in the face of Bacon goalkeeper Luke Sanford. Stonington goalie Adam Gibbs faced the same issue in the first half.

“Adam said it was brutal,” deCastro said.

Gibbs pitched a shutout for the final 60 minutes of the game.

And the Bears, who are the defending ECC tournament champs, got to hang another banner.

“We knew we were playing a really good team today,” deCastro said. “We won up at Bacon so we knew we were going to get their best shot. They were clearly ready to play. But I think we showed some resiliency. It says a lot about us.”

Stonington, which had yielded but six goals all season entering the game, hadn’t trailed by two goals all year.

“Coach gave us a little talk at halftime,” Whalen said. “After that, we played better. Maybe we were a little nervous. But we kept our composure.”



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