Warriors' dream season ends in quarterfinals

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Thu., Nov. 15, 2012
Junior Jason Stargardter leaps over a defender while dribbling during Windsor's 2-1 victory over Masuk in the first round of the Class L state tournament. Photos by Colin Rajala.
Junior Jason Stargardter leaps over a defender while dribbling during Windsor's 2-1 victory over Masuk in the first round of the Class L state tournament. Photos by Colin Rajala.

The Windsor High School boys’ soccer team’s dream run in the Class L state tournament came to a close on Nov. 13, in the quarterfinals, when they were defeated 1-0 by the eighth-seeded Farmington Indians (14-2-3). The Warriors' 10-7-1 final record is the school’s first winning season since 2000, first 10-win season in more than 15 years, and its first quarterfinal berth in more than 25 years.

“As soon as we lost, I hugged the crying teammates; those are always the ones who your heart breaks for,” said head coach Peter Lepak. “I told the whole team that we turned on a light in Windsor. We were the energy, and we woke the town up and turned them on to Windsor soccer. I know the boys awaked that spirit. I couldn't go anywhere in Windsor this past week without someone wishing us good luck. It was surreal. I will never forget it.”

The 17th-seeded Warriors' quest for a state championship started on the road at Trumball High School as they squared off with 16th-seeded Masuk (7-5-4). With 22 minutes left in the game, Masuk’s Ciaran McKeown scored to give the Panthers the one-goal advantage. Windsor pressed forward for the remainder of the half, battling for their post-season lives when they found the equalizer from junior Justin Nguyen with just four minutes left on the clock.

“It wasn't pretty, but it was a testament to our blue-collar work ethic,” Lepak said. “The harder-working team usually catches the best breaks, and this was no exception.”

In the first overtime, Windsor could not gain any momentum, so Lepak changed the Windsor formation in the second overtime and took the “we will win or lose in the next 10 minutes” approach. The change paid off with 30 seconds left before penalty kicks, when junior Stephen Blood’s throw-in found senior Isaiah Townsend at the back post for the decisive goal, giving Windsor its first state tournament victory since 1991.

Less than 24 hours later, Windsor faced number-one-seeded Watertown High School (14-1-2) and put pressure on the Indians early with a few scoring chances, but failed to find the back of the net. Windsor escaped the half unscathed after a Watertown direct kick hit the crossbar with five minutes left, and junior co-captain Amani Pershad cleared the ball of the Windsor goal line with under three minutes left in the half. Four minutes into the second half, junior co-captain Tyler Lacafta crossed a corner kick into the box and Townsend headed the ball clean into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead. Junior goalkeeper Drew Tasillo made four key saves in the final 10 minutes to preserve the victory. Townsend’s goal was his second game-winner in as many days and gave Windsor its first win over a number-one-ranked team in school history, while handing Watertown its first defeat on the season.

“I will miss this dream season,” Lepak said. “I woke up this morning and was very sad. Not because we lost, but because it's over. I will miss the boys, miss our brotherhood. We really were a family. And no one can ever take that away from us.”


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