MANCHESTER — Whenever Connecticut Technical Conference girls soccer rivals Windham Tech and Platt Tech meet, the games are usually hard-fought and low-scoring.
The regular season was no different this season as both teams split, with Windham Tech winning 3-2 on Sept. 20 and Platt Tech winning 1-0 on Oct. 11. Another close game was expected when the two teams met in the CTC tournament final on Saturday and that trend continued, albeit with a wild ending.
With the seconds winding down in regulation, the Tigers were called for a hand ball in the box, the Panthers were awarded a penalty kick and Darlyn Arriaga scored on the penalty kick with 27 seconds left in regulation to lift Platt Tech to a 1-1 tie with Windham Tech.
After two scoreless 10-minute sudden death overtimes, both teams were declared co-champions.
“Darlyn Arriaga is a defender but at halftime asked me to move her to forward so she could try and score for us,” Platt Tech coach Dennis Vai said. “When we got the penalty kick, she asked me to take the kick and she was confident she would score, so I let her take it.
“This was a nailbiter, we had so many chances to score in the second half. But we’re happy to come away as co-champions, these girls worked so hard for it. This is our third straight championship.”
Arriaga knows Windham Tech goalie Brianna Macha from playing with her in youth soccer and it’s one of the reasons she wanted to take the penalty kick.
“I know her and I had an idea where she would go in the net to try and make the save,” Arriaga said. “She was on the left so I kicked it to the right side of the net. In the second half I wanted to play up more on offense so I could help try and get a goal. So when the chance to score on the penalty kick, I asked coach to let me take it. As soon as I hit I knew it was going in the net. It’s a great feeling.”
Grace Smith gave Windham Tech an early 1-0 lead off a perfect line drive shot from the left wing about 18 yards out at 8:37. The ball flew just inside the right post and settled into the lower right corner of the net for the goal.
In the second half, the Panthers came out with a higher intensity and the ball possession went their way. The opportunities to score kept coming and finally, thanks to the penalty kick, the Panthers were able to tie the game.
Early in the second half, Platt Tech’s Jaelynn Mitchell led a breakaway down the left side line and at the 10-yard line broke toward the net. Mitchell had a clear shot at the net but the ball went wide right at 44:15.
Mitchell had another opportunity, a wide open shot from about eight yards out off another breakaway. But Macha smothered the ball for another save.
For most of the game it looked like the 1-0 lead would hold up.
Enter Arriaga and her game-tying penalty kick.
“In the second half, Platt Tech used its speed to try and make it a track meet,” Windham Tech coach Brandon Strout said. “They had some opportunities but our defenders were able to stay on their hips and disrupt their shots.
“The hand ball call was the right call. A tie really stinks, but the bottom line is it is always great to win a championship. This will give us some momentum going into a very tough Class S tournament.”