MIDDLETOWN — Another November run in the CIAC Class L tournament, another trip to the semifinals, and another cruel ending for the Daniel Hand girls soccer team.
No. 13 seed Hand and No. 16 seed Farmington went to a 10th round of penalty kicks after playing to a 1-1 tie through regulation and 20 minute of overtime. When Carolyn Ives buried her shot into the left corner, it gave the Indians a 7-5 edge at Middletown High’s Rosek-Skubel Stadium and their first trip to the final since 2011.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” said first-year Farmington coach Max Fantl, whose team has a date with No. 2 Tolland on Saturday. “It went into PKs and we just said, ‘We gotta believe.’ We’re the 16 seed and I’ve been telling the girls anything can happen in the tournament.
“That’s a great team we just played. The players deserve all the credit. They worked so hard and they are such a resilient team.”
There were tears on both sides — relief for Farmington and crushing disappointment for Hand.
The Tigers converted their first three penalty kicks and keeper Morgan Lipford denied two of Farmington’s first three attempts. Still, the Tigers couldn’t close it out as Farmington converted its last two and Hand missed its last two to keep the match going.
Hand, which was chasing its first state championship, finished the season 12-4-4.
“It felt like we were the slightly better team” going in, Hand coach David Dikranian said. “Even though (Farmington) is very good, I felt like we had the edge tonight. And we just got a little bit unlucky.
“The past two years we lost to more talented teams. This year showed that wow, we were so close. It is cruel game, but that’s the way it goes. Sometimes you do almost everything right and then you don’t get the result.”
After a scoreless first half that generated few chances on either side, Hand broke through in the 52nd minute after Farmington was called for a hand ball. Off the free kick from about 25 yards, Chloe Thompson toed the ball to Francesa Antoni, who blasted a shot inside the left post.
Just a minute later, the Tigers had an excellent opportunity to go up by two scores, but Kayla Howard’s shot from close range sailed wide right. It would have changed the complexion of the match in favor of the Tigers.
“We had some good chances in this game, and I thought if we got that second goal it would seal it,” Dikranian said.
Less than five minutes later, Farmington (12-4-4) put in the equalizer, which at first looked like a great save by Lipford.
Alexa Scott curled a high shot from about 30 yards on the right side toward the left post. Lipford caught the ball just outside the goal line and tucked it away. With her momentum moving toward the net, she turned her body to the right and the ball crossed the line, tying the match.
“If we didn’t get it we would have been yelling about it. I would have been yelling and screaming,” Jarvis said. “I saw (Lipford) body and the ball go back (over the goal line).”
Compared to last year’s semifinal team, Dikranian said this year’s Tigers overachieved after seven starters — “seven very good players,” he said, graduated.
“This was a year that people were labeling as a retooling year,” he said. “But to get to this year’s semifinals and a penalty kick away from the final, it’s really an overachievement for these guys. We have to look at it and say, ‘We played really well, and if things kind of went our way we’d be in the finals.’
“I think it’s great motivation for the returning players, like ‘Hey, if we can do this now, what can we do next year and beyond?’”
FARMINGTON 1, HAND 1 (7-5 PKS)
FARMINGTON 0 1 0 — 1
HAND 0 1 0 — 1
Shots on goal: Farmington 9; Hand 9.
Saves: Farmington (Margaret Huelin 9); Hand (Morgan Lipford 9).