WATERBURY >> Torrington and Seymour’s boys soccer teams battled for 100 minutes through regulation and overtime in the NVL Tournament semifinals without a score Monday night at Municipal Stadium.
In two rounds of penalty kicks, Torrington goalkeeper Nate Manchester made two saves.
Defender Matt Calabrese kicked in the winning PK.
The Red Raiders won 1-0 (7-6 PKs).
“(Penalty kicks) are nerve wracking,” said an elated Manchester after the win. “The only fun I had was helping my team out. Two saves is what they expected.”
“I was trying to stay calm,” said Calabrese, a junior defender taking his first game shot of the season. “I told myself, ‘Even if I miss, we still have a chance.’”
The PKs followed a game muted by officials’ tight rein after Seymour players earned multiple penalty cards in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over St. Paul Saturday.
The cards took the Wildcats over the CIAC limit (16), disqualifying them from state tournament participation.
Down four starters, the NVL Tournament was the last hurrah for five Seymour seniors.
An early yellow card warned both teams of this game’s short string. Whistles re-set sometimes minor-seeming violations.
Torrington center mid-fielder Alex Church went down with a knee injury five minutes into the game. Forward Amar Suljic dropped back to fill his spot.
Both teams had shots. Nothing went in, thanks to misses or saves by Manchester (5) and Seymour keeper Peter Ragaini (7).
“They were down a lot of people. We had the better chances, but they put up a shell, then worked on counter-attacks,” said Torrington coach Mike Fritch. “Sometimes it worked. We held onto the ball way too much.”
The Raiders out-shot Seymour 21-10. It meant nothing as the teams registered five shooters apiece for the first round of penalty kicks to find a winner.
Seymour went first. Individual team members alternated at the line.
The first four Wildcats zipped shots past Manchester. The first three Raiders got past Ragaini, a sophomore.
The fourth Torrington shooter hit the crossbar. One more Seymour PK wins it all.
“I was just out of my mind,” said Manchester, a junior down to one necessary save after a brilliant first season in the net.
Manchester batted the shot back out. Kevin Vaca made his shot, 4-4.
On to round two.
The first Wildcat hits the crossbar, but the round continues until a tie is impossible.
Pressure increases with every shot. Ethan Barbieri makes his for Torrington; Brandon DosSantos makes one for Seymour.
Ragaini makes a save on Torrington’s next shot, tying the round, 1-1. Zachary DosSantos and Naseem Thompson, the third shooters, keep it tied, 2-2.
A Seymour shooter hits the crossbar; Ragaini makes another save. It’s still tied, down to the round’s final shooters.
Manchester dives left, batting away the ball.
Calabrese makes his first shot of the year a great one.
Torrington (15-2-1) takes on the winner of Monday’s late game between Naugatuck and Watertown Wednesday night at Municipal, 7 p.m., for the championship.
In two match-ups between Torrington and Naugatuck this season, Naugatuck won the first game 2-0. The teams tied 1-1 a week later.
Torrington beat Watertown 3-0 in their only regular-season game.
No. 2 Torrington 1, No. 3 Seymour 0 (7-6 PKs)
At Municipal Stadium, Waterbury
Seymour 0 0 0 0 (6) – 0
Torrington 0 0 0 0 (7) – 1
PKs: S – Edmund Rioux; Gavin Colwell; Jean Virvet; Colin Mattutini; Brandon DosSantos; Zachary DosSantos. T – Michael DeSousa; Jose Peguero; Brandon Stater; Kevin Vaca; Ethan Barbieri; Naseem Thompson; Matt Calabrese. Shots: 21-10 Torrington. Saves: S – Peter Ragaini 7 (2 PKs). T – Nate Manchester 5 (2 PKs).
Records: Seymour 12-4-2; Torrington 15-2-1.