HADDAM — It’s on to the Elite Eight for the Haddam-Killingworth boys soccer team.
The seventh-ranked Cougars, co-champions of the Shoreline Conference, beat No. 23 Plainville 2-0 in an emotional, often chippy — there were two yellow cards and a red card handed out — second-round Class M tournament match on Wednesday played at H-K High.
H-K will play second-ranked and undefeated Lewis Mills — a 3-0 winner over Bulkeley on Wednesday — in the quarterfinal round in Burlington Friday at 2 p.m.
“Plainville is a very good, very fast team that plays on turf,” said H-K coach Denis Recchia. “This field was tough today, a little torn up, and I think that played to our advantage.
“I also think it was very emotional because you have seniors realizing as the game goes on, this might be the last time they ever play soccer. So I can understand the emotion. I thought the officials pretty much kept things in control.”
It was a well-played game and in the end — except for the score — it was statistically even. Plainville (8-7-3) had 15 shots to H-K’s 14 and neither team dominated possession.
Plainville, which plays in the Central Connecticut Conference-South and thus plays an almost exclusively Class LL and L schedule, had two shots hit the posts.
“The grass field was not conducive to our style of play,” said Plainvlle coach Tim Brown. “It was also kind of torn up. We were not quite as sharp as we can be, but I think we showed a lot of heart and played hard right to the end. We had our chances, especially with the shots that hit the posts.
“And their first goal, which is what cost us the game, just trickled in. We had five defenders and our keeper right there and they just watched it.”
That goal came off a scrum in front of the net and was kicked home by Ben McLaughlin with 4:05 left in the first half. That was all the scoring until H-K (14-2-2) was awarded a penalty kick that Ben Marchetti converted with 49 seconds left in the match. Goalie Sergio Zaldivar was given a red card and disqualified on the play.
There was plenty of furious action between those two goals, and it was during the second half — which Recchia called “pretty crazy” — that yellow cards were handed out to H-K’s Colin O’Brien and Plainville’s John Siani.
Early in the second half with 35:23 showing, H-K was awarded a direct kick from perhaps 25 yards out — the Cougers wanted a penalty kick — but the kick went just to the right of the net.
Plainville had a clear shot, but hit the crossbar with 24:35 to go, then had another shot from left of the net that crossed in front and hit the right post and caromed away.
Both teams put pressure on both goalkeepers and H-K keeper Jack Spooner got the shutout making nine saves. Zaldivar also played brilliantly, making eight saves. Both keepers ranged far from their nets to cut down scoring opportunities. The Plainville defense held H-K to just three shots in the half.
“The chippiness didn’t bother me,” said Brown. “It’s the tournament and emotions run high. I have no problem with how my kids played today.”
HK 2, PLAINVILLE 0
PLAINVILLE 0 0—0
H-K 1 1—2
Records: Plainville 8-7-3; HK 14-2-2. Goals: HK—Ben McLaughlin; Ben Marchetti (PK). Shots: Plainville—15, HK—14. Saves: P—Sergio Zaldivar 8; HK) Jack Spooner 9.