BRIDGEPORT — For 100 minutes Saturday night Bassick and Avon pushed one another to the absolute limit in their Class L boys soccer quarterfinal.
Neither team could break the 1-1 deadlock, leaving the lottery known as penalty kicks to decide it at a frigid Lewis Memorial Field at Harding High. No. 12 Avon won the shootout 4-2 and advances to the semifinals next week against No. 17 Maloney.
Bassick, the No. 4 seed, finishes the best season in school history at 13-3-2.
“If there’s a way I have to go out, I’ll go out this way,” Lions coach Saleh Hanaif said. “The boys played, 80, 90, 100 minutes … I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
In the shootout all four Avon players converted their kicks including the clincher by Ryan Bartkiewicz, while two Bassick takers missed the target. After the kicks ended Falcons keeper Max Frodermann went over to hug his counterpart Gustavo Poblano. The Lions senior keeper was excellent throughout regulation and extra time — piling up 11 saves.
“I’ve been in that position,” said Frodermann, who also converted his kick in the shootout. “I know how difficult it is to go out after a PK shootout. It’s the least I can do, because they can go either way.”
Bassick took advantage of a spilled ball by Frodermann in the 9th minute, setting up Kevin Mones’ goal from close range that made it 1-0.
Avon pulled level two minutes before halftime when Alex Rostenberg found space outside the area and drilled a shot into the upper right corner. It capped off a wild, back-and-forth first half that saw the teams combine for 17 shots.
The second half was a different story as Avon slowly mounted pressure to pin Bassick in its own end. The Falcons created many chances from long throws and set pieces — twice hitting the crossbar — but the Lions defense held firm.
Daniel Maldonado and Mones each made important blocks in 1-on-1 situations for Bassick to help force overtime. Senior Fritz Delphonse anchored the Lions defenders throughout the night.
“I expected a tough battle,” Avon coach David Zlatin said. “I talked to a few coaches and they’re a very competitive, hard-working team. It was a terrific effort by them, they kept us at bay.”
Avon appeared to have scored in overtime from a corner kick, but the officials waved off the goal ruling that the ball went out of play during the initial delivery from the corner flag.
It meant the game would be decided from the penalty spot. The Lions were eliminated on penalty kicks in their previous two state tournament appearances under Hanaif and with that in mind he had his team practice penalties for the last two weeks including in the rain on Friday night.
“The only time we go out is on PKs,” Hanaif said. “It just happens, they’re high school kids.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Gustavo Poblano, Bassick. The senior keeper finished with 11 saves — many of the diving variety. Poblano’s best effort came in the opening moments when he made a double save — first sprawling out to stop and Avon shot and then making a quick reaction with his hands to tip away the rebound. He also made a save on the last kick of overtime to preserve the 1-1 deadlock.
“We became family. We’re a tight group. That’s what made us win all these game,” Bassick coach Saleh Hanaif on the Lions’ best season in school history coming to an end.
AVON 1, BASSICK 1
AVON 1 0 0 0—1
BASSICK 1 0 0 0—1
Avon wins 4-2 in penalty kicks
Records: Avon 12-4-3; Bassick 13-3-2
Goals: A—Alex Rostenberg; B—Kevin Mones; Goalies: A—Max Frodermann (8 saves); B—Gustavo Poblano (11)