Lady Knights survive tussle in Tolland
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington/Tolland - posted Thu., Nov. 15, 2012
The Lady Knights have never been as far as the quarter-finals or better in the CIAC Class M soccer tournament (although they did make the semi-finals in Class S in 2001), and have had difficulty surpassing neighboring Tolland, especially in the post-season, but it was 12-seeded Ellington that prevailed in an overtime win (3-2 on penalty kicks) in the second-round match on Nov. 12 to upset #5-seed Tolland.
Ellington came out aggressively, and scored first, with Devonney Waters punching one in just 7 minutes into the game. Both teams played well in the first half, and the Eagles launched several attacks that were thwarted by Ellington's defense, until Tolland senior striker Hannah Fay broke through with 6:11, firing a shot from about 20 yards deep that curled into the top corner of the net.
In the second half, both teams played with tenacity, and Tolland had the edge in possession and attacking chances, but couldn't find the net.
It was more of the same in the two overtime frames, with both sides knocking the ball around well, but neither one able to seriously threaten the net.
Megan Lester was the only Eagle to score a penalty kick, as Ellington goalie Kiara Stone made three saves. Ellington's Gigi Rubino and Emily Costanzo buried penalty kicks, and that was enough to seal the win for the Knights.
Ellington coach John Hostetler, in his second year of tenure with the team, said his team knew they'd have to play cohesively to take down Tolland. “We knew they were bigger, stronger, and maybe faster,” he said. “I thought we defended well, except for the end of the first overtime where there was a four-minute span where we didn't mark well, and that almost cost us the game. We had enough opportunities to put one in. We knew it was going to be a battle. I can't say we wanted it more than Tolland, but we wanted it as much as they did.”
“We didn't have a very good first half,” Tolland coach Ken Boucher said. “We've struggled with that all year.” Boucher said his team exceeded his expectations, and were very “good kids.”
“Did I think we'd win 14 games? I don't know,” he said. “The chemistry was amazing. It's probably one of the tightest groups we've had, so it's tough.”
Hostetler added that his team is not considered a top contender in the bracket, but that is helpful to them. “There's no pressure on us,” he said. “It's kind of like a Cinderella story. They play hard, but who in their brackets had Ellington going to the quarter-finals, except for me?”
Hostetler said having former coach Rich Dyjack in the stands added some good luck for the team. “He's a good friend of mine, and he did a great job getting this team to this point, too,” he said.
In 2009 - the last time the two teams faced each other in the CIAC tourney – Tolland knocked out Ellington in the second round. Last season, Tolland fell in the second round, while Ellington lost in the first.
At press time, Ellington was preparing to face #4-seed Lewis Mills on Nov. 14, in Burlington.
For a complete tournament bracket, visit www.casciac.org.