WEST HAVEN >> Branford goalkeeper William Bustos knew the shot attempts were coming from Notre Dame-West Haven in the second half.
Down two goals at halftime, then three in the second half, the Green Knights had to mount pressure. Bustos was up to the task.
The senior came up with six big saves, three in each half, to help No. 17 seed Branford eliminate No. 16 Notre Dame-West Haven 3-1 Monday in a Class L state tournament first-round match between Southern Connecticut Conference teams at Veterans Stadium.
“In the first half, I was a bit nervous because we hadn’t ever played Notre Dame before,” Bustos said. “Once we got two goals, I was able to settle down.”
Said Branford coach Paul Hunter: “Billy has been fabulous for us. The second half of the season, he has come up with so many big saves.”
Branford (10-6-2) now plays at top-seeded University/Prince Tech on Wednesday in the second round.
The Green Knights (9-6-3) had their opportunities, totaling 15 shot attempts and eight corner kicks. But they only came up with the one goal by Stheven Berrazueta midway through the second half.
“I’m terribly disappointed. I thought we were good enough to win that game,” Notre Dame coach Rudy Raffone said.
Notre Dame will have much more to reflect on than those missed opportunities. The first thing was the goal Alex Mathews scored in the early stages of the second half that would have made the score 2-1 Branford, but was disallowed.
Bustos made a diving save on Berrazueta’s original shot. Mathews was able to get a foot on the ball and kick it into the net, but the goal was waved off because it was determined Bustos had control of the original save.
“I got control of it, then it slid away from me, but I actually got it the second time,” Bustos said.
“Then the kid came up and kicked it right out of my hands.”
Said Hunter: “The rules read as long as a goalkeeper has a finger on the ball, that is considered possession. Whether I agree with that or not is something totally different, but that’s what the rule reads. So, from the standpoint of the call, a legitimate call.”
Notre Dame coach Rudy Raffone received a yellow card for protesting the disallowed goal.
“I don’t think the guy had control,” Raffone said. He declined further comment on the matter.
Branford took a 2-0 first-half lead despite having just one shot attempt. The first was an own goal when Notre Dame defender Dario Salati accidentally kicked the ball into the net while attempting to clear a shot by Max Condon.
Then on a high, lofting through ball by Gobari Idamkue, Condon was able to get behind the Notre Dame defenders and head one past keeper Tyler Brown-Ortiz with a little over 8 minutes left in the first half to make it 2-0.
“I don’t know if we have given up two worse goals in the history of the program,” Raffone said. “That was awful. Miscommunication, an own goal. It’s poor coaching.”
Condon returned the favor in the second half when he nailed a corner kick high to the far post and Idamkue leaped up to head in Branford’s third goal.
“We practice that all the time, the specific way I kick the ball,” Condon said. “Right when I kicked the ball, I knew it was a perfect ball for Gobari.”