EAST HAVEN >> Guilford was one of just four teams that managed to tie Xavier during the regular season.
But no one was able to defeat the Falcons.
Through the completion of the Southern Connecticut Conference boys soccer tournament, that is still the case. But it certainly wasn’t easy.
Brendan Cutuli buried a 25-yard line drive into the top left-hand corner of the net, giving top-seeded Xavier the 2-1 double-overtime win over No. 6 Guilford in the SCC final at East Haven High on Wednesday night.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m so proud of my team with what we have done so far, being undefeated,” Cutuli said. “(Guilford) gave us a really good challenge, but we fought to the end.”
Said Xavier coach Brian Fitzgerald: “(Cutuli) took the touches he needed to take, he looked up, saw the keeper had come out and hit a pill. That was a beautiful shot.”
This is the first outright title for the Falcons (15-0-4) since 2001. Xavier shared the title with Cheshire in 2006. This was Guilford’s 10th trip to the SCC final; the Indians last won in 2009.
“We as a coaching staff said if we won 10 games this season, we overachieved,” Guilford coach Joe Maher said.
“We are at 11 right now. We have a home game in the first round of the state tournament. If they play like they did this week in the SCCs, they will be a tough out.”
Both teams will compete in the Class LL state tournament.
Cutuli’s goal came just 93 seconds into the second overtime period.
“I was just trying to get it on target to give us an opportunity,” Cutuli said. “I saw it go right over (Guilford goalkeeper Nate Wilson’s) hand.”
Said Maher: “That kid will never hit the ball like that for the rest of his life. You know that, I know that, their coaching staff knows that, he knows that. … That was smoked. Another foot on our side and that would have been us.”
Noah Rattet had a shot attempt just miss at the beginning of the second overtime for Guilford (11-6-2).
The Falcons made good on their first shot of the second half. Wesley Reid headed Joe McCormack’s corner kick into the left-hand side of the net to break the scoreless deadlock less than 8 minutes into the half.
Guilford had the first shot of the game from Stephen Page, but didn’t get off another one in the first half. Its next one came on the tying goal.
T.J. Williams scored off Nick Bonelli’s direct kick with 15:41 remaining in regulation. It was just the eighth goal Xavier allowed this season.
“Credit to Guilford, they brought it tonight,” Fitzgerald said. “Our guys are playing good soccer. Hopefully, we can continue it in the states.”
Xavier 2, Guilford 1 (2OT)
(at East Haven)
Guilford 0 1 0 0 — 1
Xavier 0 1 0 1 — 2
Second half—XV: Wesley Reid (Joe McCormack) 47:44; GU: TJ Williams (Nick Bonelli) 74:19; Second overtime—XV: Brendan Cutuli 91:33;
Shots—GU: 4; XV: 12;
Saves—GU: Nate Wilson 3; XV: Aidan McCormack 1; Dan Miela 1;
Records—Guilford 11-6-2; Xavier 15-0-4