Suffield boys’ soccer team wins third straight title
By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Suffield - posted Tue., Nov. 19, 2013
You could call it a premonition or just a hunch, but Suffield head coach Mark Beigel had a good feeling about Derek Zarzycki prior to Nov. 16’s Class M boys’ soccer championship game against Ellington. He recalled thinking about Zarzycki's only goal of the season while en route to the championship game and saying to himself that he was due.
And sure enough, the senior delivered, netting the first goal of the game just 12 minutes and 52 seconds into Suffield’s 2-0 win over Ellington to capture its third-straight Class M state championship.
Beigel had just subbed Zarzycki into the game a few minutes prior to the senior finding himself open on the far post. “I saw Tom Bartley give the ball up to Jack Moriarty,” said Zarzycki. “I knew he had a strong left foot so I was hoping for him to deliver, and when I saw it go over that defenders head, I knew I would put it away.”
The Wildcats would add another goal in the second half when Brent Baskin turned and buried one into the near corner from about eight yards out with 23:39 left to play.
“Baskin gave us some breathing room,” said Beigel. “We could all take a collective breath on that one.”
Suffield’s win capped off a perfect 20-0 season, making them the first team to do that since Farmington in 2003. They also became the first boys’ team since Avon in 1987-1989 to win three consecutive outright state titles. Overall, the Wildcats have won nine titles.
“It definitely doesn’t get old, but it gets better, I’ll tell you,” said Beigel.
“This group of seniors is just an unbelievable group of guys. To accumulate a 72-4-2 record, that doesn’t happen very often. These guys really redefined what you can accomplish with 21st century soccer. They really set the tone for future generations in terms of tradition of our program. They’re going to be up on the wall in our auditorium for a long time.”
Suffield senior and championship game MVP Colin McFarlane said the three-peat is the perfect way to end the season. “It’s the best way I can go out,” said McFarlane. “It’s the last game of the season; it’s the last game I’ll play in a Suffield uniform. It’s a great way to end it.”
Suffield ended the season the same way it started it – with a 2-0 win over Ellington. The Wildcats defeated the Knights 6-0 in the regular season finale, but the third victory over Ellington this season wasn’t easy.
“Ellington brought it today,” said Beigel. “The coaches after the game, we all just said this wasn’t a fun one.”
Despite the loss, Ellington head coach Roy Gurnon said he was proud of his team’s effort. “The guys in purple did a great job today,” said Gurnon. “We battled, we competed. I thought they did everything we asked them to do.”
Anchoring the Knights' defense was sophomore goalie Bailey Bassett, who faced constant pressure from Suffield all game. The Wildcats out shot the Knights 24-7.
“Bailey was tremendous,” said Gurnon. “This whole tournament was like Bailey’s coming out party. It’s just one game after the next. He’s just raised the bar."
Entering the tournament as the 14-seed, the all members of the Knights team raised their performance as they marched towards the school's eighth appearance in the title game. They opened the tournament with a 2-1 win over Northwestern, the 19-seed. Next they defeated Lewis Mills, the 3-seed, 1-0 in the second round, and then upset Montville, the 6-seed, 3-0 in the quarterfinals. A 1-0 win over Lyman Hall in the semifinals punched their ticket to the championship game.
“I think collectively we started moving the ball a little bit better,” said Gurnon. “James [Costanzo] had some terrific goals during the tournament. I thought we used the field better as the tournament started. I thought our defense was really solid with Bailey and the four backs as well, and Jon Bassett did some very good stuff for us in the center of the field.”
“Terrific run – we’ll take it,” added Gurnon. “If you have to lose the last game and you’re in the state finals and you play like that against a team like that, what are you going to say?”