It’s nice to not be able to play your best and still pick up victories. But that doesn’t make it any less concerning for a head coach.
Mike Marchitto, the Amity boys soccer coach, had those concerns at certain points this season despite not losing a game. Then came Wednesday’s 3-2 home loss to Foran.
“We had been skating through and winning games when we weren’t at our best,” Marchitto said. “We got outplayed (by Foran). Rick (DeStefano, the Foran coach) had his team well-prepared. I actually think that loss will be the best thing to happen to us.”
The Spartans responded on Friday, shutting out Shelton 1-0 to clinch at least a tie for the SCC Housatonic Division title. Amity either needs to win at Lyman Hall on Tuesday or at Sheehan on Friday to win it outright.
And even if Amity loses both and Shelton wins its remaining division game at Cheshire Saturday, Amity wins the tiebreaker with a season sweep of the Gaels (2-1 win on Sept. 25).
The Spartans are the defending division champions as well. It’s a far cry from 2010 when Amity was winless at 0-14-2.
“It is a big deal for us (to repeat),” Marchitto said. “Cheshire has always been the top team in our division. I think we have the talent to keep it here for awhile.”
Center-midfielder Dean Schwartz makes things go for the Spartans (9-1-2, 5-0-1), finding the likes of forward Justyn Broderick for goals.
“His movement and ball control are excellent,” Marchitto said about Broderick.
The shutout against Shelton was the sixth shutout of the season for goalkeeper Griffin Volta. He benefits for a tough defense in front of him, led by center back Evan Donahue.
“We lost a lot with Ian O’Brien-Cannon graduating last season (a 2012 All-Area selection),” Marchitto said. “But Evan stepped into that position and plays it like it has been his job all along.”
Amity starts four seniors so, with a strong junior core back for 2014, it’s understandable why Marchitto thinks Amity can be good in the future.
But for now, Amity will prepare to try and win its second SCC championship and advance beyond the Class LL state quarterfinals for the first time.
League tournament outlooks
Both the Guilford and Branford girls teams were the first two to clinch SCC division titles this week in the Hammonasset and Oronoque, respectively.
In the Housatonic Division, Cheshire beat Amity 1-0 Friday to not only split the season series but, more importantly, put itself in position to clinch the division title with a win over Shelton on Friday night. If Shelton pulls the upset, Amity will need to win both of its remaining division home games against Sheehan and Lyman Hall to win it outright.
The SCC Quinnipiac comes down to Friday afternoon in Middletown when Mercy hosts Sacred Heart Academy at 3:15. The winner would clinch, while the division title would be shared with a tie. The two teams tied at 2 the first time around on Oct. 1.
Amity is the only boys team to clinch at least a share of the crown. Xavier has a stranglehold on the SCC Quinnipiac and could clinch on Friday if it can beat Fairfield Prep, the defending champion, in Middletown.
Branford will successfully defend its SCC Oronoque Division title with a win or tie against North Haven on Thursday night at home.
The SCC Hamonasset comes down to – who else? – Hand and Guilford. Hand successfully defends with a win or tie Saturday night at Guilford, and would also win it if Guilford either loses or ties Foran tonight.
Guilford, Shelton and Fairfield Prep will all likely earn berths into the eight-team SCC tournament which begins Oct. 26.
In the Shoreline Conference, Old Saybrook controls its own destiny to be the top seed in the league tournament. Cromwell, Valley Regional, Haddam-Killingworth and Old Lyme look to be near-locks for the tournament as well.
Coginchaug controls its own destiny to be the top seed in the girls field while East Hampton, Old Saybrook, Portland and Old Lyme should all be in the tournament.