TRUMBULL — Grayson Moniz had only taken four shots and had been held scoreless.
But with 26.9 seconds remaining in overtime, the Weston sophomore scored the biggest goal of his life to give the Trojans their first CIAC Class M championship Saturday afternoon with a 5-4 triumph over Daniel Hand at McDougall Stadium.
Fourth-seeded Weston (17-4) had won three Class S championships, with its last coming in 2007, but lost in its only other appearance in the Class M final in 2019.
After great saves by both goalies in the first three minutes of the extra session, Moniz took the ball near midfield, raced from the left side to the middle and blasted a bouncer past Hand goalie Ryan Bordiere for the winner.
“I caught it in the clear and I didn’t expect to get in at that point,” Moniz said. “When I saw there was an opening, I took it to the house as far as I could.”
His one-bouncer went over Bordiere’s head into the top left side of the net to end the game and set off a euphoric celebration by the Trojans.
“The goalie had me beat all game and I’m not a great high shot shooter, so I just shot a bouncer,” Moniz said. “I don’t know how it went in, but I’m very excited.”
Weston had come back to tie things with just 16.2 seconds remaining in the game when Jacob Strouch rocketed a shot past Bordiere from 20 yards out on the left-side hashmarks.
“I just had to put a good shot past the keeper,” Strouch said. “They left the whole middle for me to go.”
Interestingly enough, the play wasn’t for Strouch. Out of timeouts, Weston coach Josh Thornton called for a stick check on Bordiere to allow for time to design a quick play with 27.5 ticks left on the clock.
“That was our fifth bullet to give us time to draw up a play, because you don’t know what kids will do,” Thornton. “We drew it up for someone to pop up on the other side, but Jacob got his hands free in the middle and he’s a dangerous shooter.”
DEFENSIVE FIRST HALF
— Sean Patrick Bowley (@SPBowley) June 12, 2021
The first half was a defensive struggle as both goalies kept their teams in the game. Weston goalie Andrew Albert made five spectacular saves in the opening five minutes of the game, including one on Hand’s Sam Sisk, who blasted a shot from just outside the crease that was steered aside.
“Five shots back to back to back,” Albert said. “After that I was locked in and was so confident. To only allow four goals in the state championship is amazing. It’s the best game I’ve ever played.”
Kevin Sandor finally scored the game’s first goal with a rush up the middle and beat Albert from 5 yards out to give Hand a 1-0 edge with 4:58 to play in the opening quarter.
It only took Weston 3:28 to tie it on a blast from Strouch into the top left of the net.
Hand grabbed a 2-1 lead with 36.5 seconds left in the opening quarter on a goal by William Flanagan.
Despite Hand dominating possession in the first half, Weston was able to tie it midway through the second quarter on a goal by Renzo Garone with 5:48 until intermission.
Each team scored once in the third quarter. Will Harris put the Trojans ahead 3-2 just 1:12 into the second half with a shot right from the doorstep into the top left of the net. Just over five minutes later, Hand countered with Robby Swank scoring on the same type of shot.
The fourth quarter was just as defensive as the rest of the game, with Patch Flanagan giving Hand a 4-3 lead with 2:45 remaining. He ran down the right and made an inside move on his defender before beating Albert to the top left of the net.
Each team had a couple of chances until Strouch tied things to send it to overtime.
It was the sixth time Hand (15-6) has reached the Class M state championship game without taking home the trophy.
“I’m really proud of the way the kids competed today,” Hand coach John Orlando said. “It’s really a game of inches and bounces when you get to this point of the season. Their goalie made a bunch of saves so hats off to him and Weston.”