MADISON — After 80 minutes of up-and-down soccer, it was probably fitting that this one ended up in a draw.
Deadlocked in shots taken at 18-18, Hand and Fairfield Prep played to a 2-2 Southern Connecticut Conference boys’ soccer tie Friday afternoon in Madison.
“I was proud of the way we fought,” Hand coach Stan Latkowski said. “I thought that the worst it should have been for either of us was a tie.”
“You get to a certain point and it should be a tie,” Fairfield Prep coach Ryan Lyddy said. “They’d like to win. We’d like to win, but unfortunately for us, it didn’t happen today.”
Hand (5-3-1) took a 1-0 lead at the 22:50 mark when Brian Jackson deked Simon Whiteman after a pass from Jack Thompson and was all alone against Fairfield Prep goalie Mike Meszaros. From about 10 yards out on the left side, Jackson fired a shot that hit the lower-left corner of the net.
“We’ve talked about patience and it doesn’t matter the score,” Lyddy said. “We had to just keep fighting and fighting. That definitely showed today.”
After being outplayed to that point, Fairfield Prep (5-3-2) was able to take the lead with a pair of goals in a 6-minute span. Christian Backe was able to convert a pass from Nick Kelly in the middle in front of Hand goalkeeper Nick Nelson to tie things with 21:29 left in the first half.
Then Sam Smit’s header off a throw-in put the Jesuits ahead, 2-1, at with 15:10 remaining before intermission.
“If we get another one in the first half and don’t give up a silly one, it might have been different,” Latkowski said. “We gave them the two quick ones and we could have quit.”
Fairfield Prep came out quickly in the second half and controlled the ball, but Jimmy Colihan’s shot hit off the top of the crossbar 5 minutes into play.
Hand then tied things up with 32:54 remaining the game when Christian Koshgarian dribbled through four Fairfield Prep defenders and blasted a right-footer into the top right corner of the net from about 10 feet out. Fairfield Prep goalkeeper Mike Meszaros didn’t have a chance to stop it.
“He beat four players and ran 30 yards,” Latkowski said. “Kosh has been money all year.”
“It shouldn’t happen, but I give credit to him,” Lyddy said. “Not too many people can do that and he deserved the goal.”
Just 8 minutes later, Fairfield Prep’s Stephen Tortora had a chance to put the Jesuits in front again, but his direct kick sailed over Nelson’s head and over the cross bar.
The Tigers had a great chance with less than 3 minutes to go, but D.J. Hartman’s shot off a corner kick was steered aside by Meszaros.
Meszaros had 14 saves for Fairfield Prep, while Nelson had 12 saves for Hand.