CROMWELL >> Cromwell boys soccer coach Cliff Parker believes his team is capable of going on a winning streak in the Class S tournament.
“The goal right now is to win five,” Parker said.
The Panthers got their first one Tuesday night.
Senior forward Jake Pendl scored on a penalty kick with just 2 minutes and 10 seconds left in the first overtime and Cromwell held off Immaculate, 2-1, in the opening round of the state tournament at Cromwell High School.
After a well played scoreless first half, Immaculate took a 1-0 lead when senior Colm Doherty was fouled just outside the 18-yard line in the 46th minute. Doherty, who blasted a shot off the crossbar early in the first half, placed a perfect shot over Cromwell’s defensive wall and into the net’s upper corner.
“Doherty was voted the second best player on our conference (South West) and he’s probably going to be all-New England,” Immaculate coach Steve Cameiro said.
The No. 11 Panthers answered seven minutes later. Pendl sent a terrific crossing pass to junior Jack Holcomb inside the 18-yard line and Holcomb one-timed a shot into an open net to tie it at 1.
“From the beginning of the season we said we’re never out of anything,” Pendl said. “We just kept going at them and kept creating chances and eventually we stuck one in.”
Pendl’s game-winning penalty kick score came after he was taken down by a Mustangs defender fighting for a breakaway chance late in the first overtime. Pendl then blasted a grounder past Mustangs goalkeeper Matt Giorgio.
“It was a legitimate call,” Parker said. “It’s hard to have a PK at that time.”
The Panthers outshot Immaculate, 13-5.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Cameiro said. “In overtime it can go either way. We made a mistake and that’s it. Pendl was fantastic. Hat’s off to Cromwell. Hopefully, they have a nice successful ride forward and we’ll just have to focus on next year now.”
Giorgio finished with six saves, while his counterpart, Cromwell senior Nick Gentile, stopped two shots.
Immaculate made a push in the final minute of the second overtime and forced two corner kicks, including one with 25 seconds left that the Panthers thwarted when Gentile leaped and caught a 50/50 ball in traffic.
“We’re really excited, there was a lot of hype for Immaculate going into the game,” Pendl said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Immaculate-Danbury, which was seeded No. 22, finished 5-7-5.
“Immaculate’s not a typical first round matchup,” Parker added. “They play in a very tough league and that really prepares them for the tournament. We knew we were in a battle the whole time. They scored first and we kept our heads and worked hard. The boys played great. Everybody did a great job for us tonight.”
Cromwell (10-6-2) advanced to play Shoreline Conference foe Morgan (12-5-1) on Thursday in a second round matchup in Clinton.
“We always said we can play five games in a row and win them,” Pendl added. “That was our philosophy going into the season, a five-game winning streak we’ll bring us to the ‘ship.”