WOODBRIDGE — With goals hard to come by Monday afternoon, it was only fitting penalty kicks were needed between Guilford and Amity.
When all was said and done, it was the underdog Indians that executed their plan to perfection in the penalty kick session. Outscoring the Spartans 4-2, sixth-seeded Guilford upset No. 2 Amity 2-1 at Amity High in the semifinals of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament.
“We tell the kids we just put them in a position to win,” Guilford coach Joe Maher said after his team advanced to its first SCC final since 2010. “It is up to them to score the goals.”
In a game that saw plenty of excitement, Guilford evened the game at 1 on an own goal with 10 minutes, 53 seconds gone by in the second half. After that, it was nail biting time for each team as each had its opportunities.
When neither team could find the back of the goal during the rest of regulation or two golden-goal overtime periods, it was on to penalty kicks. Amity survived the penalty kicks against Shelton to advance, but suffered a different fate against the Indians.
Guilford (11-5-2) started the penalty kicks with Noah Rattet beating Amity goalkeeper Griffin Volta to his lower-left side. After Amity’s Dean Schwartz sailed a shot over the goal, Guilford took a 2-0 lead when Sal Nasr went to the same side and again beat Volta.
Nicholas O’Brien-Cannon sailed another shot over the goal and Amity was in trouble. Volta kept the Spartans within striking distance when his diving save denied T.J. Williams.
“I think we tried to hit the ball really hard instead of soft and placing it,” Amity coach Michael Marchitto said after his team fell to 11-3-4. “It is tough sometimes. You get nervous in a situation like that.”
Aaron Cooper, who scored in the first half for Amity, got the Spartans within one goal when he beat Guilford goalkeeper Nate Wilson. Guilford’s Nick Bonelli rifled a shot under the crossbar for a 3-1 advantage before Justyn Broderick pulled Amity within a goal on a shot to the lower-right corner.
Trailing by a goal, Amity needed a stop. Guilford’s Sawyer Geelan ended any hopes of an Amity comeback when he beat Volta to the lower corner, sending the Indians into a wild celebration and ending Amity’s run at a league tournament title.
“You have to ask the kids if you want to take the penalty kick,” Maher said. “Some kids do not want any part of it. We made some good shots.”
Amity controlled play for a better part of the first half but could not beat Wilson.
Wilson denied a looping shot in front by Jeremy Conn with 12:50 left in the half, then denied Broderick in front with a diving save from 8 yards out with 3:50 to go in the half.
The Spartans finally got one by Wilson with 1 minute left in the first half to take a 1-0 lead. Broderick sent a perfect cross to the right side and Wilson challenged Cooper, who fired a laser off Wilson’s right hand into the
top-left corner for the first score of the game.
“We had some chances, but, unfortunately, we had some tough bounces,” Marchitto said.
Wilson then kept the Spartans off the scoreboard long enough in the second half for his team to even the contest. The senior goalkeeper made a diving save on a shot by Schwartz 3:10 in, then stopped a header by Broderick off a corner kick 32 seconds later.
Amity’s best shot to increase the lead came off the foot of Schwartz, who ripped a laser off the post 7:15 into the second half.
Guilford then took advantage of Amity’s missed opportunities. Off a free kick, Amity tapped a loose ball into its own goal to even the game at 1 with 29:07 left in regulation.
Amity was fortunate to have the game go beyond regulation as Guilford put the pressure on late and saw Noah Elmeleki ring a shot off the post from 15 yards out with 12:36 remaining.
The Indians also had the better scoring chances in the first overtime. The best opportunity came off the foot of Nasr, who rang a shot off the crossbar.
Volta finished the game with 12 saves, while Wilson had 11 for Guilford.