No. 23 Plainville ousts No. 3 Stonington 2-1 in Class M boys' soccer semis
Middletown — There is no manual out there for how to feel when it ends. Some of they lay still on the frozen turf of Larry McHugh Field. Some wore forlorn looks, heads down, in disbelief that all the unity and togetherness this season produced had just ended.
And it wasn't like third-seeded Stonington High School played poorly Wednesday night in its Class M state boys' soccer tournament semifinal. Tie game late. Ample scoring opportunities. It's just that No. 23 Plainville, whose seed belied the program's talent, played a little better.
Logan Miller's goal with 6 minutes, 23 seconds remaining gave the Blue Devils a 2-1 win and a berth in Saturday's state championship game against No. 1 Ellington, a 1-0 winner over No. 4 Watertown. The final will be played at 3 p.m. at Willow Brook Park in New Britain.
The Bears, who finish 19-3, didn't win a title, but advanced one more round than last year's team, that lost quality players to graduation.
"It wouldn't surprise me if Plainville won on Saturday," Stonington coach Paul deCastro said. "We're pretty close."
He meant that the differences in talent and effort Wednesday night were thin enough to be spread across a cracker.
"They move the ball well and are very organized defensively," deCastro said of Plainville, which also eliminated Montville earlier in the tournament. "We knew this wasn't going to be easy. Their seed doesn't mean anything."
Plainville did to Stonington what the Bears did to Tolland Saturday in the quarterfinals: score early. Jamison Magowan gave Stonington the early lead over the weekend, 38 seconds in. This time, Michael Torres scored in the fifth minute, giving the Blue Devils the lead.
"That definitely wasn't part of the plan," deCastro said. "It changes the complexion of the game."
The Bears tied the game with 14:43 left in the half. Freshman Sam Montalto outran several Plainville defenders in pursuit of a loose ball, created some space and rifled one past keeper Sergio Zaldivar, not only one of the biggest goals of the season, but some foreshadowing on the kind of career Montalto can have at Stonington.
Miller's game winner came off a corner kick, ultimately ending Stonington's season on a frigid night, 50 miles from home.
"The juniors and seniors on this team were all in," deCastro said, saluting many of his players who created many memories in a program already full of them.
The Bears graduate nine seniors, but return several players who should challenge for division, league and state titles next fall.
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