GUILFORD >> In a wild one at Guilford High’s turf field, freshman midfielder Zachary Buffington scored the biggest goal of his young high school career with a game-winning shot from about 10 yards out to give No. 10 New Fairfield a 10-9 CIAC Class M quarterfinal win over No. 2 Guilford in sudden death overtime.
“We were waiting for a good shot when I got the ball up top,” Buffington said. “I stepped into the lane and when I did I had a clear shot at the net. As soon as I let it go I knew it was going in.
“I’ve had a few big shots this season but that is definitely the biggest for me. It’s a great feeling knowing I contributed and that we’re headed to the semifinals.”
New Fairfield (11-8) will face No. 6 Hand in the Class M semifinals on Wednesday at a site and time to be announced. Hand defeated No. 19 Pomperaug 16-0 in another quarterfinal game.
The Indians (15-6) looked to be in great shape with a 9-7 lead with 4:10 left in the fourth quarter and possession of the ball.
But an errant Guilford pass gave the Rebels possession and the Indians never had the ball again. Buffington scored with 1:34 to go in regulation to make it 9-8 and Colin Ford tied the game at 9 for the Rebels with 1:12 to go in the fourth quarter.
“At 9-7 with possession we should have killed more time, but unfortunately we had the bad pass and never saw the ball again,” Guilford coach Brian White said. “This is the same kind of close game we played against them when we beat them in the regular season.
“New Fairfield is one of the best coached teams we played against this season.”
In April the Indians defeated the Rebels 9-7.
New Fairfield set the wild tone early when Brett Tenaglia scored 20 seconds into the game for a 1-0 lead.
Guilford responded by scoring five unanswered goals. The Indians seemed to have all the momentum when Shane Molloy gave Guilford a 5-1 lead with 4:54 to go in the first quarter.
But the Rebels followed with a 5-0 run of their own. Liam Ford gave New Fairfield a 6-5 lead with 1:46 to go in the third quarter. Will Dacey scored off a tough angle to tie the game at 6 for Guilford with 23 seconds left in the third quarter.
The teams traded goals early in the fourth quarter, setting up the exciting finish.
“I’ve been coaching for 24 years and this is the proudest moment in my coaching career,” New Fairfield coach Marty Morgan said. “The first quarter, we just didn’t have it. Their No. 19 (Molloy) and No. 33 (Rob LoRicco) had us in the beginning of the game. But our guys dug down, worked hard and came back.
“This comeback is even more special when you have seven freshmen on the team contributing. When Zach took that game-winning shot, I knew it was going in. I saw him take that same shot for years going back to his youth lacrosse days.”
LoRicco led the Indians with three goals, Molloy had two goals and an assist, Korey Carregal added a goal and two assists and James Bright had seven saves. Liam Ford led the Rebels with three goals, Buffington and Colin Ford had two goals each and Christian Benzing had 12 saves.
New Fairfield 10, Guilford 9 (OT)
New Fairfield 2 1 3 3 1 — 10
Guilford 5 0 1 3 0 — 9
Goals: (GU) Rob Loricco 3; Shane Molloy 2; Jack Ring 1; Will Dacey 1; John Delucia 1; Korey Carregal 1; (NF) Liam Ford 3; Zachary Buffington 2; Colin Ford 2; John Morgan 1; Liam Rattigan 1; Brett Tenaglia 1; Assists: (GU) Korey Carregal 2; Will Dacey 1; (GU) Shane Molloy 1; Saves: (GU) James Bright 7; (NF) Christian Benzing 12; Shots—NF: 17; GU: 21;
Team records—Guilford 15-6; New Fairfield 11-8