CROMWELL >> The Valley Regional and Cromwell boys soccer teams essentially traded goals until time ran out.
But Ben Ferrucci and the No. 3 Warriors broke a tie with 3:05 left in the game to defeat No. 2 Cromwell, 4-3, and advance to Friday’s Shoreline Conference finals.
With 12:54 left in the game, Cromwell’s Derek Parker took a free kick from the right side and sent it inside the goal box where captain Ryan Hopley got his head on it to tie the score at 3. As fast paced as the play was, someone was bound to score before time expired and that’s when Ferrucci netted his second goal of the game.
The junior took a cross from the right side and redirected it to the back of the net, sending the Warriors to their third conference championship game in four years.
“He wanted the ball in the box and probably hit it waist high,” said Valley Regional coach Mick Fearon.
The scoring started early.
Senior Luke Gagnon snuck one by Ryan Murphy to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead just 10 minutes into the game.
“I thought it was going to be a low scoring game, in fact, when Valley scored first I said that could be it,” said Cromwell coach Jon Harder.
Cromwell (10-4-1) fought right back. With 16:00 minutes on the clock in the first half, Justin Grant found Parker right in front of the goal who used his head to tie the game at one. Eight and a half minutes later, Ardit Statovci found some space on the left side before burying a shot that gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead heading into halftime.
“We score and then we fall asleep for a bit,” said Fearon.
At 28:17 in the second half, Ferrucci knocked in his first score. He took a cross from the right side and tied the game at 2.
“The goals all came from wing play, balls pulled across,” said Fearon.
The Warriors (13-3-1) took their first lead of the game with 18:55 remaining when Nicholas Lepore struck from eight yards out, but Cromwell answered right back six minutes later on the high header from Hopley. The ball seemed to float forever and finally dropped in just behind the Valley keeper.
“We did a good job possessing the ball, we opened up a lot of passing lanes for ourselves,” said Harder.
Ferrucci scored the game winning goal as time was winding down.
Valley Regional will play top-seeded Old Saybrook on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Indian River Complex in Clinton.