FARMINGTON >> An even battle between No. 1 Lewis Mills and No. 4 Tolland came down to penalty kicks in a CIAC Class M boys soccer semifinal at Farmington’s Tunxis Mead Wednesday night.
Tolland goalkeeper Kyle Boutot made two saves in the final ordeal, sealing a 1-0 win for the Eagles on a 4-2 count in PKs.
In the round of five kickers for each team, Litchfield’s Geoffrey Gelorme and Joe Fortuna and Tolland’s Ryan Regan and Ryan Giroux tied the PK score 2-2.
Then, while Eagles Michael Zimmerman and Tom Leahy made their final penalty kicks, Boutot batted two away from the Spartans.
“I try to read as much as I can,” said Boutot, a junior who’s faced PKs in high school and the premiere league for several years.
“I knew he would get one; I hoped for two,” said Coach Jim Leahy, the National Goalkeeper of the Year for Brandeis University in 1984.
“Kyle’s only a junior and he’s as good as I was,” said Leahy after his son, Tom, made the win twice as sweet with the final Eagle kick.
On the other side, the finale was a bitter pill.
The two teams were dead even for the first 20 minutes of regulation. Then Tolland, seeking its second straight trip to the finals, took over possession.
Mills goalkeeper Ben Lewis made a great flying save 10 minutes from the half. A Mills shot went wide five minutes later.
Otherwise, possession or no, it was a defensive struggle.
Mills turned dominant in the second half.
“We played so badly in the first half, I just told them anyone not playing their position would sit down, so we got back to our regular play,” said Spartan coach Ben Kulas.
Mills had two hard shots at Boutot in the first 11 minutes. By the 18th, he hollered at his teammates, “Blue, who’s going for the ball?”
Nevertheless, there was a penalty for Mills’ hard play.
The central referee handed out three yellow cards to Mills in the final 20 minutes of regulations for fouls the Spartans considered minor.
Three minutes from the end of regulation, the ref added a red card, removing one of Mills’ top players from the field while forcing the Spartans to play a man short.
If Coach Kulas’ challenge at halftime inspired the Spartans to better play in the second half, playing a man down inspired them again. Mills was better than ever.
Six minutes into the first half of the 20-minute overtime, the ball went in the Tolland net after a deflection. The referee waved off the goal; the deflection was out of bounds before it came back.
Four minutes into the second 10-minute half, Boutot hurdled a Mills player for the save on a near-breakaway.
With a minute left, Lewis batted an Eagle shot off a corner kick over the net.
The only thing left for two great teams, two great goalies, was penalty kicks.
“You have to read the shooter. What are his tendencies? What are the clues?” said Coach Leahy.
Two times, Kyle Boutot read them right.
The Eagles, 17-2-1, face No. 3 Bacon Academy, 17-1-2, in the Class M Championship Saturday at 10 a.m. at Middletown High School.
Bacon Academy beat No. 2 Nonnewaug 2-1 in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
Lewis Mills ends its season 17-1-1.
No. 4 Tolland 1, No. 1 Lewis Mills 0 (4-2 PKs)
At Tunxis Mead, Farmington
Tolland 0 0 0 0 4 PKs – 1
Lewis Mills 0 0 0 0 2 PKs – 0
Penalty Kicks: T – Ryan Regan; Ryan Giroux; Michael Zimmerman; Thomas Leahy. LM – Geoffrey Gelorme; Joe Fortuna. Shots: 16-11 Tolland. Saves: T – Kyle Boutot 6 (2 PKs). LM – Ben Lewis 8.
Records: Tolland 17-2-1; Lewis Mills 17-1-1