Stonington boys outlast Fitch on PKs to win ECC Div. I soccer title

East Lyme — It had all the elements of a classic championship game, particularly at the end, with the requisite sadness and euphoria of the players. But there was this sense Thursday night from all parties that they were appreciative of being part of a special night.

"Look, I know Jay (Fitch coach Jay Wolfradt) well and there are a lot of friendships among our players," Stonington coach Paul deCastro said. "I thought this would be a great game, a one-goal game. But it was even better than I thought."

And by an eyelash — one more successful penalty kick — the Bears emerged with a 5-4 win in the shootout and the 2019 Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I boys' soccer tournament title. The game was tied 1-1 after regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtime periods.

Cole Devoe converted the final penalty kick, the one that gave his team the championship. The Bears went 5-for-5 in the round, thanks to Sam Montalto, Ty Fidrych, Will Cannella, Billy deCastro and Devoe.

"Not a better feeling than this," Devoe said.

And then he paused, indicating the aspirations of the Stonington program and how there's one more championship out there, and said, "it's on to the next one, though."

Caleb Robbins, Tim Lynch, Aidan McLean and Gio Valentine converted Fitch's penalty kicks. Robbins' header early in the second half pulled Fitch even at 1, following Fidrych's goal in the first half that gave the Bears a 1-0 lead.

"I thought our guys played a tremendous game," Wolfradt said. "The environment wasn't too big for them. We were ready. I like the fight in our guys. I'll take these kids anytime."

Stonington missed two virtually open goals in the second half and in overtime, leading to some angst. But this is a program used to deep state tournament runs and big games.

"This was one of those games when you hate to see someone lose," deCastro said. "But the bottom line is that this is going to prepare us for the state tournament and Fitch as well."

The Falcons, whose program has been resuscitated under Wolfradt, have a bye in the first round of the Class L Tournament. They will play Wednesday at home at Poquonnock Plains Park.

"We came here to win this tournament," Wolfradt said. "I guess you could say it was an accomplishment to get here, but that's not how we were thinking. No disrespect to Stonington, but we came here believing we were going to win."

• Top-seeded Windham and No. 2 Lyman Memorial played to a 1-1 double overtime draw in the Division II title match, but the Whippets won the championship by winning a penalty kick shootout 4-2. Alfonso Vazquez had given Windham (14-1-3) a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute with his 51st goal of the season before Zac Crawford tied the game 10 minutes later for the Bulldogs (11-2-5). Vazquez was named MVP.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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