Tourtellote boys' soccer team falls 4-0

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Tue., Nov. 15, 2011
Tiger Carlos Garcia-LaBonte and Shepaug Valley's Eddie Kelly battle for the ball. Photos by D. Coffey.
Tiger Carlos Garcia-LaBonte and Shepaug Valley's Eddie Kelly battle for the ball. Photos by D. Coffey.

The Tourtellotte Memorial High School boys’ soccer team couldn't stop their high-powered opponent in the first round of the ECC class S tournament play on Nov. 11. Shepaug Valley won the game by a score of 4-0.

“They were a great team,” said Tourtellotte coach Dennis Snelling. “It was a tough draw for us. They had a lot of experience together.”

The two-and-a-half-hour ride to the game didn't affect their play one bit, he said. Shepaug Valley traveled from Washington, Conn., for the game.

Snelling credited goalkeeper Mike Benkowski and defenseman Shane Alexander with keeping the score close until well into the second half of the game. “Mike and Shane really stood out,” Snelling said. “They gave it everything they had. Shane seemed like he was always the one to defend. It seemed like they [Shepaug Valley] could get by everyone but him. He was really putting himself in front of bigger people and getting in there. He didn't get to score any goals this year, but he kept giving 100 percent. He doesn't get enough recognition, in my opinion. Defenders usually don't.”

The Spartans went up 1-0 about 20 minutes into the first half. “They kept pressuring the goal,” Snelling said. After about 10 shots on net, the Spartans scored. “A rebound came out to a guy who was wide open, and he just took a touch and scored,” said Snelling. “He was one of two players we knew we had to stay with. All he needed was a little bit of space.”

Snelling said his Tigers played to the best of their abilities until the end of the game. "The fact that we couldn't find a way to score really wears you down,” he said. “We really needed a goal. It didn't seem like anything we did was working offensively. It just took one more goal for them to really break our spirits.”

That second goal came in the second half. After the Spartans scored, it seemed the Tigers lost some of their spirit.

“We tried to go all offense, and they just kept scoring,” Snelling said. It didn't help that Shepaug Valley had some players who were better than any the Tigers had faced all year.

Snelling said that most of his players were realistic afterward. “We knew we had a chance, but it would have taken perfection to win,” he said.

“They played hard all year,” Snelling said of his team. “The fact that we made it to the tournament was an accomplishment. The fact that we had a chance to win our conference in the regular season was an accomplishment. We went from a two-win team to an eight-win team. We could have beat anyone this year. We had close games, and two overtime losses. It was a really good season. They all need to know that. They need to remember the work they did last year to get them here this year.”

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