GREENWICH — Greenwich senior Shoki Araki never forgot the mistake he made in the 2016 Class LL quarterfinals which he felt cost his team the game against Shelton.
Araki can now focus on another memory against Shelton in the state tournament.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Araki pounced on a ball misplayed by the Shelton keeper, scoring the first goal of the game.
The Cardinals would tack on another goal late as No. 16 Greenwich defeated No. 17 Shelton 2-0 in the opening round of the CIAC Class LL boys soccer tournament Wednesday at Cardinal Stadium.
Greenwich will face No. 1 Xavier in the second round Thursday in Middletown.
For Araki, being able to atone for a mistake two years earlier in what is likely his final game in Cardinal Stadium was sweet.
— Scott Ericson (@EricsonSports) November 7, 2018
“Two years ago against the same team in the quarterfinals and we lost 2-0 and it was kind of my mistake that cost us in that game. This was a good way to get some payback,” Araki said. “I didn’t expect that ball to pop out, but I kept running and got the goal. It feels good to go out on this field with a win.”
A high bouncing ball was sent into the box but the Shelton keeper mistimed his jump, failing to control the ball which fell behind him.
Araki scooted around the keeper, picking up the loose ball and scoring one of the easier chances he will ever have.
Shelton’s best chance to tie came on a direct kick after a foul was called 25 yards from goal, but the shot was knocked over the top of the net on a tie-saving leap by Jimmy Johnson.
Shelton would keep plugging away, but found penetrating the Greenwich defense too difficult a task.
“We knew Greenwich would be a very hard team and a challenge for us, but I thought we were prepared,” Shelton coach Isaac Montalvo said. “I am proud of my boys. They played with heart, they played with sportsmanship and respect and I am so proud of them. Hopefully next year, we can come back stronger.”
Greenwich missed wide five times in the game on golden scoring opportunities, keeping Shelton in it.
That would change with 7:45 to play when Aden Cuellar scored off a loose ball in the box, putting Greenwich up 2-0.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jimmy Johnson, Greenwich. Johnson only made six saves on the day, but the ones he made were critical, including the stop on the free kick.
“The key for us was neutralizing (Shelton striker Erik Lorent), but our whole team played to the level that we can play at. When we are on our game, we are a tough team to break down,” Greenwich coach Kurt Putnam said. “Jimmy (Johnson) pulled out a few great saves to keep them out, but when you look at the chances that we blew, good chances, it could have been a bigger margin, but I think that may have been unfair to Shelton who fought hard this game.”
GREENWICH 2, SHELTON 0
SHELTON 0 0—0
GREENWICH 0 2—2
Records: G—10-3-4; S—10-6-1. Goals: G—Shoki Araki, Aden Cuellar. Goalies: S—Isaac Garcia 14 saves; G—Jimmy Johnson 6 saves.