MIDDLETOWN >> Ellington’s Eric Amundarain, who scored the only goal of the match, said it best.
“I will remember that goal until the day I die,” he said, after the Purple Knights won the CIAC Class M championship before more than 1,000 spectators at Rosek-Skubel Stadium at Middletown High School.
The game-winner came with 11:29 left to play in the match. Amundarain, who was closing from the right, took a pass from Alex Domingos, and curled his left-footed blast off the far left post.
“I yelled to Alex, and he popped it a little higher than I hoped, but it gave me an opportunity and with my left foot I hit the far post,” said Aundarain. “We practice that all the time.”
Ellington dominated early in the match and only an excellent save by Tolland goalie Kyle Boutet (3 saves) with 34:30 showing on the clock kept Ellington (16-3-2) off the board.
Some five minutes later Tolland had a chance to score, but a shot banged off the crossbar. At the half, Tolland had a 9-5 shot advantage, but aside from the two aforementioned opportunities by each team, much of the match was played in the middle of the field.
With 31 minutes left in the match, an Ellington shot cleared the crossbar by 10 feet. That was the only real scoring chance until Amundarain scored.
“That was an all-out battle,” said Ellington coach Roy Gurnon, whose team lost to Suffield in the 2013 title game. “The tenacity with which this match was played was what finals are supposed to be. That was a terrific play by Alex to get the ball to Amundarain.”
The match came down to the final 45 seconds when Tolland put enormous pressure on the Ellington goal. Tolland’s Ryan Greenberg’s shot hit the crossbar, bounced back into the scrum in front of the net where it was fought over for several seconds before Tolland got off another shot that was cleared off the line by a defender.
“I was surprised the ball didn’t go in in that last minute,” said Gurnon. “But our back line has been lights-out all season.”
Tolland (14-6-1) coach Jim Leahy said, “That was one of the best soccer games I’ve ever seen; a great high school game. Ellington came out hard and had us on our back foot for the first 10 minutes or so, but I thought we dominated play after that. But we’ve had a hard time scoring and today they finished.
“There is no shame in losing to Ellington. If we played each other 10 times I wouldn’t want to guess how that would come out. In those last 45 seconds, I thought we would score. But soccer is a cruel game.”
Ellington’s James Costanzo was named the Most Valuable Player by the officials who worked the game.
Ellington 1, Tolland 0
Tolland 0- 0 — 0
Ellington 0 1 — 1
Goals: Ellington: Eric Amundarain (Alex Domingos), 11:29.
Shots: Tolland, 12, Ellington 10.
Saves: (T) Kyle Boutet 3; (E) Bailey Bassett 3.
Records: Ellington 16-3-2: Tolland 14-6-1.