NAUGATUCK — Hand has lived in November for the past few years. Even before winning back-to-back state championships the last two seasons, the Tigers reached the Class L state semifinals several times.
Wethersfield didn’t have as much recent tournament success, but the Eagles have 15 state championships to their credit.
So two proud, successful soccer programs went to work at Veterans Field Wednesday night to try and earn a berth in Saturday’s final. And 100 minutes of action wasn’t enough to settle it.
And the chance at a three-peat is still alive and well in Madison. Greyson McGeary scored with 1:38 left in the second overtime session to give No. 3 seed Hand the 3-2 win over No. 7 Wethersfield at Naugatuck High.
“We hate to lose, we really do, regardless of who the competition is,” senior Lee Wildermann said. “They came at us the entire game, no doubt about that. We fought back just as hard.”
— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) November 15, 2018
The Tigers (15-2-3) will face No. 17 Maloney, one of four teams remaining out of the Central Connecticut Conference, on Saturday at Middletown High.
“At the end of the day, it’s about spirit, it’s about the willingness to fight and stick together. This is an unbelievable group,” Hand coach Greg Cumpstone said.
This will be Maloney’s first appearance in a state final.
Hand trailed 1-0 most of the second half. It was looking bleak. Then Trey Doktorski was taken down deep in Wethersfield territory with 1:24 left in regulation.
Wildermann surveyed the wall in front of him and the net, then served the free kick into the net for the tying goal.
Doktorski gave Hand a 3-2 lead 2:30 into overtime. Wethersfield keeper Mark Accarpio made two great saves to keep it a one-goal deficit.
Brendon Mansaku tied it in the second overtime period. That set up the fantastic finish for McGeary and the Tigers.
“I saw Charlie (Sullivan) going down the right-hand side. He’s always been able to swing those (crosses) in,” McGeary said. “I saw the fullback was dropping a bit out wide. I made the run across him. … I couldn’t really feel my feet, they were so cold. Those are just the finishes that everyone thinks are the easy ones, but they are tough and the goalie made a great attempt at the save.”
Michael Manousos scored in the 41st minute for the Eagles (14-4-2).
“I said They put out their best, we put out our best, they got the last good action of the game,” Wethersfield coach Robert Jachym said. “When you come this close, there’s never a good way to lose, but I am proud of them. It was a great shot, a great free kick, nice individual efforts. That’s what happens when you play good teams. Make a little mistake here and there and the good teams punish you for it.”
HAND 3, WETHERSFIELD 2 (2 OT)
HAND 0 1 1 1 – 3
WTHHSFLD 0 1 0 1 – 2
Goals: W: Michael Manousos, 48:54; H: Lee Wildermann, 78:36; overtime: H: Trey Doktorski, 82:31; W: Brendon Mansaku, 92:21; H: Greyson McGeary (Charlie O’Sullivan), 98:22. Shots: W 8; H 14. Saves: W: Mark Accarpio 6; H: Clayton Knibbs 4. Records: W 14-4-2; H 15-2-3.