MIDDLETOWN >> There are several good teams in the area, but it just might be that the Middletown High boys soccer team is the hottest of them all.
The streaking Blue Dragons extended their unbeaten streak to six and won their fifth in a row, stunning Central Connecticut Conference South division foe Bristol Central, 3-2, Tuesday night at Rosek-Skubel Stadium.
Middletown, which lost to Central 5-1 earlier in the season, took a 3-0 lead, then held off the Rams’ late rally to improve to 7-4-2. Central fell to 8-5, 8-3 in the CCC South.
“We played very well, especially in the first half,” said coach Sal Emanuele. “Our plan was to come out attacking and we were able to do that.”
Middletown took a 1-0 lead immediately, scoring on a goal by Umberto Spada just 77 seconds into the match. Thanks to a spectacular save by goalkeeper Chris Rodo a minute and half later, Middletown’s defense made that 1-0 lead stand up at intermission.
The Dragons took a 2-0 lead with 35:39 left in the match on a goal by Tom DiMauro, then Lucas Saunders scored on a direct kick with 34:34 showing on the clock.
“We had to sweat a little at the end,” said Emanuele. “I think we relaxed a bit with a 3-0 lead thinking maybe the game was over, but we held on.”
Central missed a chance to score when a shot went wide with 32:20 remaining, and Rodo made another good save with 30:45 showing. But Central got on the board with 13:03 left to play when Chris Dabkowski scored on a penalty kick.
The Rams cut the lead to 3-2 when Dabkowski scored again with 9:29 to play.
After a winning just two of its first seven matches, Middletown has turned its season around.
“All the things we’ve been working on have come together,” said Emanuele. “It was also very important to get our captain, Logan Pingree, back. He missed our first eight games with an injury and he’s made a big difference. We also share the ball more and are playing much more as a team.
“We also made some changes and moved Saunders to center midfield and he’s done a great job there. Tonight we got another good performance from our backs, namely Mateo Cavaliere, Nick Rodo and Kyle Bonvouloir.”
Middletown had 18 shots to Central’s 14. Rodo had 11 saves, while Evan Tavera had eight saves in goal for Bristol Central.
Middletown is home Friday at 7 p.m. with Platt of Meriden at The Stadium.