PORTLAND — The Morgan boys soccer team had been through this before.
For three straight seasons the Huskies have battled their way into the Shoreline Conference tournament final. This year, they handed Old Saybrook its first loss of the season in the semifinals.
The end result in Saturday’s tournament final was better than the previous two years. Fourth-seeded Morgan battled second-seeded Haddam-Killingworth to a 1-1 tie and a co-championship after a pair of 15-minute overtime sessions.
“They dug deep, gave it everything they had,” Morgan coach Ross DeMay said. “I could tell when they were coming off they were wobbling. It will take a couple days to recover.”
The Shoreline Conference follows the format of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship finals. 30 minutes of extra action, no sudden death, no penalty kicks to determine a champion,.
“When you first think about, co-champs kind of stinks,” H-K coach Denis Recchia said. “But these guys have worked super hard, it was a really long year and it was a top heavy Shoreline this year. I felt Saybrook, Morgan and us were kind of really even. And as it turns out at the end of the season, we were even, so you can’t be too mad about it. That was a war, 110 minutes of full-throttle soccer.”
The same two teams played to a 1-1 tie during a September regular season game — minus the 30 minutes of overtime.
“I don’t know if it could be more even than that (Saturday). We both booted it back and forth a little bit. At the end of the day, I really don’t know who is better,” Recchia said.
Juan Avila scored the equalizer with just 13:54 left in regulation for Morgan (14-3-2), a header off of Matt Koziy’s assist.
Both teams had just three shots in overtime and goalkeepers Anes Gadun (Morgan) and Jack Spooner (Haddam-Killingworth) had two saves each.
Sam Purdy scored with 1 minute left in regulation off a rebound to put the Cougars (13-2-3) up 1-0. Matt Savastra had the initial shot that Gadun dove to save, but deflected back out.
DeMay noted a number of players who walked off after the game concluded had been a part of the last two finals’ losses. One player who wasn’t with them was Jhan Carlos Bemeo, who DeMay said likely suffered a broken collarbone injury in the second half and will miss the Class S state tournament.
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