BRISTOL >> The Middletown boys soccer team rebounded from its first loss of the season with a 2-1 Central Connecticut Conference victory over Bristol Central on Tuesday at Bristol.
The Blue Dragons (10-1-2, 8-1-2) also kept pace with Maloney for the top spot in the CCC’s South Division.
But it wasn’t easy.
Playing again without injured senior tri-captains Joe Pizzuto and Kyle Bonvouloir, Middletown built a 2-0 lead and then escaped in the final minutes as the upset-minded Rams made a terrific bid to tie it.
“We’re happy to get wins without our two captains,” said Middletown coach Sal Emanuele. “It’s been difficult, obviously, at times. Bristol Central had the opportunities at the end and we were happy to hold on.”
The Rams (2-9-1), who have gone nine straight games without a win, including a 3-0 loss at Middletown on Sept. 19, outshot the Blue Dragons 10-5.
“We’ve been struggling all season,” said Bristol Central coach Bruce Mazzochi. “We’ve had a lot of issues with injuries and we haven’t been able to field the full team. We finally got some numbers back and we’ve been working extremely hard. Did we outplay them today? I think we did.”
Middletown struck early when sophomore Dan Flores got his head on a throw-in from senior Umberto Spada and notched his first goal of the season in the 8th minute.
Rams sophomore Steve Behmke nearly tied at the end of the first half with a pair of chances. But he ripped a shot off the crossbar and Middletown senior keeper Chris
Rodo (nine saves) made a diving stop on Behmke’s second scoring opportunity.
Blue Dragons sophomore Tyler Bonvouloir finally broke through for a breakaway goal, pushing a shot past keeper Nick Sassu (five saves) in the 45th minute, and Middletown had a 2-0 advantage.
“They were playing a high line offside trap,” Emanuele explained. “And it was just a matter of timing it so we were able to get it behind the defense on a good through ball or a ball over the top and we were able to do that on the second goal.”
But the Rams made things interesting down the stretch when junior Jacob Kreciglowa scored on a header off a perfect corner kick from senior captain Colby MacDonald in the 68th minute.
Bristol Central kept the momentum to the end where Rodo made a big save from in the final seconds.
“We work extremely hard on possessing the ball,” Mazzochi said. “Today things turned around. We just can’t get the right breaks. Overall, this is one game where they don’t deserve to lose.”
Middletown, which was coming off its first loss of the season, a 1-0 defeat at Maloney, travels to Platt on Friday (3:45 p.m.).
“Basically, we just have to do our best to win the remaining games,” Emanuele said. “We’re focused now on Platt and we’ll take it from there.”