MIDDLETOWN >> The streak continued.
Hand of Madison extended its regular season unbeaten streak to 43 with a 1-0 Southern Connecticut Conference win over Xavier at Larry McHugh Field Tuesday evening.
The last time Hand lost a regular season game was in September of 2013 to Shelton. Since then the Tigers are 36-0-7.
While Hand didn’t score until there was just 9 minutes, 32 seconds left, the Tigers dominated. The visitors had an 18-2 shot advantage and the fact that margin resulted in only one goal frustrated Tigers coach Stan Latkowski.
“I thought we played well in spurts,” Latkowski said. “But we missed so many chances, some just wide and a couple off the post. As I told the kids, if we don’t finish we’ll get bit someday.”
Hand (2-0) will have to play its next game Thursday afternoon versus Amity at home without starting keeper Matt Parker. Parker was hit with a red card for obstructing a potential scoring opportunity. He sat the rest of the game and must sit the next game.
“We’ll go with our sophomore (Clayton Knibbs),” Latkowski said.
Xavier fell to 0-2.
“We’re still trying to find our identify,” Xavier coach Brian Fitzgerald said. “It’s still early and we were without two starters, one with an injury and a transfer waiting for eligibility. So we have some guys playing out of position. They took it to us in the second half and they had a lot opportunities, but I thought my keeper, Anthony Shea, was great in goal. We thought we might be able to sneak out with a tie and maybe a win, but not so.”
Shea had 10 saves, but never had a chance on Drew Montgomery’s direct kick.
Xavier had the first shot of the game, but didn’t muster another until late in the game. Meanwhile, Hand had opportunity after opportunity, and finally cashed in when Montgomery scored on a direct kick from 25 yards out.
The goal came less than three minutes after Hand assaulted the goal with three shots in 10 seconds, with the second rocketing off the near post.
The first 10 minutes was played in the middle of the field, but after that it was all Tigers.
“Even though we didn’t play well a lot of the time, the kids find a way,” Latkowski said. “That says a lot about their character. But because we haven’t lost in so long, everybody wants to beat us. It’s hard to play with a target on your back, but the kids hang in there.
“It’s so early in the season it’s hard to tell what we really have. I played 17, 18 kids tonight, just trying to find out who goes where.”
Fitzgerald said his club had a very good preseason.
“But I know the preseason means nothing,” he said. “These are the games that matter.”