FARIFIELD — Robert Sam needed less than three minutes to give East Hartford the lead against Fairfield Ludlowe in the first round of the Class LL boys soccer tournament. In turn, it left ample time for the Falcons to find an equalizer and extend their 2018 season.
The goal never came.
Instead No. 19 seeded East Hartford left rainy Taft Field with a 2-0 victory Tuesday afternoon over the No. 14 hosts.
“I definitely thought we would get another one today,” Ludlowe senior Nico Rullo said.
East Hartford (10-4-3) advances to play No. 3 Fairfield Prep on Thursday.
“I knew coming down the FCIAC is a tough league,” Hornets coach Michael Vendetti said. “I know these guys beat the crap out of each other all season long, so despite their losses and ties I know what we’re coming into. They play hard. They’re talented, they’re organized. I’m happy to get a result here.”
Sam gave East Hartford its dream start when he ran onto Emmanuel Ofori’s diagonal pass from midfield and finished from just outside the penalty area.
Meanwhile Fairfield Ludlowe (11-6-2), which lost last week to Danbury in the FCIAC semifinals, needed time to find its bearings and get into the game.
“The way we came out definitely wasn’t good enough,” Rullo said. “Having no school today we were out of our routine, the weather kind of throws you off. We tried to address that before the game, but clearly we didn’t. We let up that goal. We should be able to fix that. We’re a good enough team.”
The Falcons eventually mounted pressure on the Hornets — mainly through long throws and corner kicks — but were unable to turn the set pieces into genuine chances. The Falcons finished with 11 corners, many punched away by Hornets’ keeper Julio Argueta.
Ludlowe’s best chance came five minutes before halftime when Kristo Boci spun off his marker and found himself open on goal at the edge of the area. His shot sailed just over the crossbar.
Boci worked another chance late — this one knocked away by Argueta for a corner. By then the Hornets had increased their lead to 2-0 on Sam’s second goal set up by a through ball from Wilbert Hercules.
“They were definitely the better team today,” Falcons coach Kevin O’Hara said. “I don’t know what happened to my boys today. We were somewhat asleep, but credit to East Hartford. They played very well in the back. They were really creative up top.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Robert Sam, East Hartford. The senior forward scored twice and his presence kept the Ludlowe defense on the back foot through the game.
“Disappointing day. I have some great kids, some great seniors. Unfortunately it’s a terrible way to end the year, but it happens.” — Fairfield Ludlowe coach Kevin O’Hara on his team’s Class LL first round loss to East Hartford.
EAST HARTFORD 2, LUDLOWE 0
EAST HARTFORD 1 1—2
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 0 0—0
Records: East Hartford 10-4-3; Fairfield Ludlowe 11-6-2; Goals: EH—Robert Sam 2; Assists: EH—Emmanuel Ofori, Wilbert Hercules; Goalies: EH—Julio Argueta (1 save); FL—Nicholas Tenreiro (3), Alexander Vassallo (0), Patrick Connor (0).