Spartans advance to state championship
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Somers - posted Tue., Nov. 20, 2012
The Somers High School boys’ soccer team found itself in familiar territory on Nov. 16, as the Spartans (15-5) clinched a berth in the Class S state tournament final with a 4-2 victory over 23-seeded Northwest Catholic (10-10).
The Spartans’ road to a third straight championship looked to be in jeopardy early on, as they surrendered two goals within the first 10 minutes. Luckily, the Somers squad has dealt with the situation before: two days earlier, they fell behind two goals in their quarterfinal match-up with Canton before winning, 3-2.
“Two goals is the most dangerous lead in soccer,” said head coach Rick Kelley. “For us to come back, it shows the perseverance and composure this team has; you can’t count us out. We haven’t been tested like that all season. They are a great team and a talented bunch; they are definitely the hardest team we faced all season.”
Seven minutes into the game, Robert Place found the back of the net after the sixth-seeded Spartans failed to clear a cross into the box. Just three minutes later, Cooper Kerr scored when the Spartans could not clear a corner kick. Somers’ senior-laden team remained composed as they prepared to slowly work the Indians’ defense and erase the early deficit.
After winning the right of play and attacking Northwest Catholic for 15 minutes, sophomore Nick Murdza netted a free kick from 24 yards out, closing the score to 2-1. Just two minutes later, Murdza played a ball to senior Luke Alvaro in the box. Seeing a double-team coming, Alvaro passed it off to senior Joe Pantuosco, who evened the match up. Pantuosco gave Somers the lead with one minute left in the half, bending a shot into the net far post after he caught the Northwest goalkeeper off his line, anticipating a cross.
In the second half, senior Murdza tallied his second goal of the game, flicking a ball past the keeper after a pass into the box from senior Mike Dumas. Northwest Catholic’s frantic rally in the final 10 minutes yielded a goal by Alejandro Tobon and plenty of opportunities to tie the game, but the rally came too late and the Spartan defense held on.
The championship game - against fourth-ranked Bloomfield (14-4-1) - was scheduled to be played on Friday, Nov. 23, at 11 a.m. in Middletown.