WEST HAVEN — Morgan’s Zachary Tuccitto and David Saturno have formed a perfect bond on the pitch all season long. With a chance to help their team head back to the state finals for the second consecutive season, the pair did not disappoint.
Each scored once in the first half, and Tuccitto scored twice in the game, as fourth-seeded Morgan advanced to the Class S state final contest with a 3-0 victory over ninth-seeded Notre Dame-Fairfield Wednesday evening at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven.
“That’s just how we play together,” Saturno said. “We have played that way the whole season. It all comes down to the training we do and how unselfish we are. We are closer than other teams. We are friends, not just teammates.”
With the victory, the Huskies (15-2-2) will face sixth-seeded Old Saybrook, a 2-0 upset winner over second-seeded Litchfield, in the other semifinal, Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Morgan blanked Somers last season to take home the state crown.
“That definitely means a lot to us,” Tuccitto said of returning to the title game. “We have worked hard. I have seen some of our guys practicing on their own. That shows how much we all want it. This team works hard.”
Both Tuccitto and Saturno were all over the field in the opening half, creating scoring opportunities for the Huskies. While the pair thought they had scored three times, an offsides ruling prevented one tally in what was a two-goal first half for Morgan.
Tuccitto gave Morgan a 1-0 lead just 6:13 into the contest when he looped a shot from 35 yards away past Notre Dame goalkeeper Marcelo DeSouza. The junior’s tally gave the Huskies all the momentum they needed until the apparent second goal was ruled offsides.
A free kick by Saturno was stopped by DeSouza with the rebound going to Carter Skidmore. When Skidmore’s shot was stopped, a collision forced an offsides, resulting in the apparent goal by Tuccitto being voided.
“We came out ready to go,” Morgan coach Ross Demay said. “It was a good game. We started well and came out ready for the game.”
Saturno wasted no time giving the Huskies a two-goal advantage off a nice play by Tuccitto, who drew in DeSouza, deked and passed to Saturno. The senior fired into an open net for a 2-0 lead with 13:47 remaining in the opening half.
“They are a nice team,” Notre Dame coach Whitey Budreckas said of Morgan. “They are a highly-skilled team. When they play like that, they are hard to beat.”
After the Lancers (12-4-4) threatened for a good part of the second half without scoring, Tuccitto, Saturno and company sealed their trip to the finals with 4:55 remaining as Tuccitto scored his second of the game off an assist from Saturno.
“They work really well together,” Demay said of Tuccitto and Saturno. “I feel we work better as a team. They are very unselfish. They always find each other.”
The three goals were more than enough for the Huskies despite the Lancers mounting more pressure in the second half. Any chance Notre Dame appeared to have slithered away each time.
Notre Dame’s Kevin Morataya saw his free kick sail over the goal 5:30 into the second half, before Bernard Schuler had an open net to shoot at, but could not get a shot off seven minutes later. Schuler’s rocket was denied by Morgan goalkeeper Nick Rubino with 19:40 to go, and a corner by the Lancers did not result in a scoring chance with 12 minutes remaining.
“We could not get on track tonight,” Budreckas said. “It happens. Some game you have it and some game you don’t. But, you have to give credit to them (Morgan). They are a very nice team.”
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Zachary Tuccitto and David Saturno — Morgan’s offensive threats did not disappoint, combining for all three goals and adding a pair of assists.
“We work well together all season long. We are unselfish. We are closer than other teams off the field. We eat dinner together a lot, we have lunch together. We hang out together. We are always around each other.”
— Morgan’s David Saturno on the closeness of the team
MORGAN 3, NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 0
NOTRE DAME 0 0 — 0
MORGAN 2 1 — 3
1st Half: M: Zachary Tuccitto 33:47; M: David Saturno (Tuccitto) 13:47. 2nd Half: M: Zachary Tuccitto (David Saturno) 4:55.
Records: ND 12-4-4; M 15-2-2