MILFORD — West Haven and Foran each had one goal entering the pandemic-shortened Southern Connecticut Conference season and that was to play until the last day possible.
That day came on Friday when West Haven’s Derik Meza scored the winning goal and third-seeded West Haven defeated top-seeded Foran 2-1 in the SCC Division C boys soccer championship game at the Vito DeVito Sports Complex.
“We didn’t know what the season would be, we didn’t know when the last game would be,” West Haven coach Chris Cap said. “Playing in this game was our goal. To play in this game, compete in this game and then to win it was all about my players. This was a special season for us.”
Meza took a cross from Sebastian Navarro and pushed the ball past Foran keeper Luca Marinelli with 21:44 remaining.
Most Outstanding Player Aldo Barragan gave West Haven a 1-0 lead with his 24th goal of the season. He tracked down a loose ball off a corner and found the back of the net at the 12:19 mark.
“He got loose on a set piece when the ball was deflected around a bit,” Foran head coach Rick DiStefano said. “Aldo drifted a bit wide and the ball unfortunately squirted out to him. For us, it went to the wrong guy’s feet, for them it was the right guy. That’s a bit of bad luck.”
Foran’s Thomas Kummer tied things with a penalty kick that beat West Haven keeper Brian Carew inside the left post with 22.8 seconds remaining in the opening half.
Cap, in his fourth season at West Haven, is proud the way his boys teamed up to win the school’s first SCC title. The 1998 team lost to Guilford in the first SCC final.
“This is my first senior class, and it took a special group of kids to win a title against a good team like Foran,” said Cap, who noted that keeping his team’s attention during the ups and downs that came with the pandemic was secondary to what playing soccer provided his players.
“With everything happening in the world right now, I think they needed something to be focused on and that was soccer,” Cap said. “My captains, Anthony Vendrella and Aldo (Barragan), helped make this a memorable season. All my seniors will be missed.”
After a 2-2-1 start to the season, which included a 1-1 draw with Foran, West Haven ran off 7 consecutive victories to reach the divisional finals.
Foran brought an 8-2-1 mark into the contest.
“West Haven is a very good team, they are good in possession and have a lot of attacking talent,” DiStefano said. “It’s a matter of allowing them the ball in places that aren’t so dangerous, but deny them the ball, especially Aldo Barragan in dangerous spots. For the most part I thought we did that.
“It showed a lot to come back and equalize the game just before the half,” DiStefano said. “Down a goal, we pushed the tempo and created the opportunity on a good ball delivered into the box by Ben (Carlson). That resulted in the penalty that allowed Thomas to tie the game. We fought hard in the middle. Under tough circumstances, my boys did a good job.”
Foran head coach Rick DiStefano and his two assistants, due to established safety protocols, went into quarantine for having had contact with someone who tested positive to the virus.
“It is the time we live in. We preach safety, did things safely, and it just happened. I knew great things were possible for my boys,” said DiStefano, who watched the game streaming live. “I’ve coached at Foran for 15 years. We won the division title this year and played for the playoff title. It was gut-wrenching for me not to be with them. Jeff Raucci (cross country), Brian Adkins (boys lacrosse) and Casey Blake (girls soccer) took on coaching duties.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Aldo Barragan — Barragan gave West Haven the lead and kept constant pressure on the Foran defense.