On Wednesday, the No. 6 Somers High School boys' soccer team defeated No. 14 Canton 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the Class S state tournament.
Canton's Ben Corbett scored two quick goals in the first eight minutes of the game, but Somers came back to tie the game with goals from Joe Pantuosco and Nick Murdza. Luke Alvaro assisted on Pantuosco's goal.
Somers Coach Rick Kelly said that against a team like Canton, the game plan was to score early and often and it looked like Canton had the same game plan and followed it.
"Truthfully, I was nervous before kickoff," he said. "The boys didn't have a great warm-up and they looked flat. Canton is not the type of team to work you over with tactics and skill, but the make up for it with hustle and physicality, and they took it to us. Both goals were scored when the defense failed to find the midfield to clear the ball, and the Canton players made two quick passes and put the ball away about 15 yards out."
He continued, "The outlook wasn't good at that point, and the team looked confused. My boys haven't had a game that they've won where they started down and battled back. Heading into the playoffs, I was concerned and wondered if they had the mental fortitude to overcome a down-and-out situation."
Ten minutes into second half, Somers went ahead on a Mike Dumas shot that deflected off a Canton player.
For the remainder of the game, Somers fended off the Canton attack.
"I'm proud of their resilience and happy with the result," Kelly said.
Kyle Trusch made four saves for Somers and Tyler Lange made four for Canton.
Standout players were Murdza, Matt Kopec, and Nick Elia on defense.
The semifinals are a familiar spot for many of the Somers players, but is not the desired final destination.
Somers (14-5) will play No. 23 Northwest Catholic (10-9) on Friday in the semifinals. The game will take place at Falcon Field in Meriden at 7 p.m.
Kelly said that Northwest Catholic will be the toughest opponent of the season.
"Don't let their record or number 23 seed fool you, they're a very sound squad," he said. "They play in an extremely challenging schedule, with at least six conference matches that are either L or LL."
He said that they have a talented forward up front - Alejandro Tobon - that will be the best individual player Somers has faced this season.
"I expect my defense to be able to handle him with caution - he's fast and we're playing on turf - but ultimately shut him down," Kelly said.
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