FAIRFIELD — Notre Dame-Fairfield needed everything it had to put away East Hampton.
The Lancers jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Bellringers in the first half and were ahead in the second half, only to see East Hampton rally to tie the game and force overtime.
Thanks to the performance of Carlos Alfaro, who completed a hat trick with what turned out to be the game-winning goal 5:40 into the first 10-minute overtime, No. 9 Notre Dame survived following a 5-4 OT win in Tuesday’s Class S first-round game at Sacred Heart University.
“We needed the win today because it’s our senior year and we didn’t want to leave our home field heartbroken,” Alfaro said with fellow senior and goalie Marcelo DeSouza standing next to him. “We have a saying that it’s do or die and we left everything on the field.”
Alfaro’s tally came about off a corner kick by senior captain Sean Buzzee. The ball was first headed up in the air by a East Hampton defender with Alfaro providing a header of his own which delivered the ball into the top middle part of the net.
Notre Dame veteran head coach Whitey Budreckas was obviously happy for his team to come away victorious but he said his players will need to play better if they want to continue to advance in the tournament.
“It was a crazy game,” he said. “We should’ve won 3-0 or 4-0 but we made defensive mistakes and they (East Hampton) capitalized. If the defense doesn’t play tougher we’re going to lose. East Hampton is a good team and we lucked out.”
The Lancers dominated early thanks to goals by Jason Lopez off a penalty kick (6:35 into the game) and Alfaro on a shot off the post and into the net (19:58), and on a deflection off an East Hampton defender (34:12). It seemed like the Lancers would have a comfortable lead going into halftime.
No. 24 East Hampton, however, had other ideas. The Bellringers, who had to fight to get into the state tournament, — winning their final game just to qualify and traveling an hour and a half to get to Fairfield — scored two goals in the final four minutes to close the gap to 3-2 at the break.
Jonathan Barber tallied off a free kick by Jerome Meetens when DeSouza came off his line and couldn’t pick up where the ball was after a scramble (3:24 left) and just over a minute later, Ryan Adams found the back of the net on a header following a free kick by Chris Rau (2:35).
“That was some of the best play we’ve had all season,” East Hampton coach Mike Hull said of his team’s comeback. “If you’re going to go out, that’s the way you want to see it. I’m proud of them.”
Ten minutes into the second half, Notre Dame’s Luka Silva went to goal with keeper Noah Gibson coming out to challenge. The two collided — with Silva accidentally kneeing Gibson in the side of the head — and Buzzee gathered up the ball and fired off a shot at the back post (9:42 in).
“Offensively we played a good game,” Budreckas said.
Gibson had to come out of the game following his injury and was replaced by Drew DiStefano.
The Bellringers rallied from there with Rau scoring off a rebound of a save by DeSouza (19:33 left) and Barber netting his second goal of the game with an assist by Ryan Adams (8:04). Barber’s goal hit off the crossbar and went in.
DeSouza stepped up in the second overtime to deny Michael Nevico on a 1-on-1 and stopping Rau a few moments later on the rebound with less than eight minutes remaining.
“I ran out and made myself big and I thought to myself I need to save this or our season is done,” DeSouza said.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Carlos Alfaro, Notre Dame. The senior center midfielder registered a hat trick, including what turned out to be the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the Lancers to a 5-4 victory.
Marcelo DeSouza, Notre Dame. The senior goalkeeper and captain made two big saves in overtime to help the Lancers prevail over East Hampton.
Notre Dame will play the winner of Wednesday’s No. 25 Shepaug/No. 8 St. Bernard first round matchup in the second round on Thursday at the higher seed.
NOTRE DAME 5, EAST HAMPTON 4 (OT)
EAST HAMPTON 2 2 0 0—4
NOTRE DAME 3 1 1 0—5
Records: Notre Dame-Fairfield 10-4-4, East Hampton 4-7-4. Goals: ND—Carlos Alfaro 3, Jason Lopez (PK), Sean Buzzee; EH—Jonathan Barber 2, Ryan Adams, Chris Rau. Assists: ND—Luka Silva 2; EH—Jerome Meetens, Rau, Adams. Goalies: ND—Marcelo DeSouza (7 saves); EH—Noah Gibson (5 saves) and Drew DiStefano (3 saves). Corners: ND—6, EH—5.