Hello faithful high school blog readers. I’ll alert you right now. There is nothing in this post about Steve Smith (no not the Carolina Panthers wideout) or the Bunnell football team.
What there will be is a lot of hot high school soccer action. (Sorry, a little punchey after all the driving back-and-forth this week.)
Had plenty of time on my stress-free drive from Rocky Hill to the Post’s office in Bridgeport. (If I got a spending ticket, could I have billed it to the company?)
Anyhow…Class LL girls final…No. 1 Amity vs. No. 2 Trumbull.
SCC-champ vs. FCIAC champ.
Undefeated vs. undefeated.
Something had to give, right?
Wrong. Your final: Amity 0, Trumbull 0.
Everyone’s favorite hypenated word — Co-Champs!
If there is a major talking point on this game, it’s should they decide it in penalty kicks? Umm…get back to me on that. Yes, the World Cup, the Champions League and just about any other relevant soccer game in the world game be decided on kicks.
Of course, the public isn’t going to stand for co-World Cup champs. (Hey, France…you and Italy share the trophy.)
But let’s not forget, this is high school sports.
Co-champs aren’t the end of the world. Is it fair to decide who’s the best team in the state on what is essentially a gimmick format? Would be decide a high school football title with an extra-point kicking contest? Or basketball with foul shots?
That said, nothing is worse than when two teams walk off the field is bilwilderment. It took a lot of time for either side to actually celebrate. And even that was muted.
Amity coach Owen Quigley made sure to stress to his squad that on the trophy it will say “champions” not “co-champions.” (Not a bad week for Quigley, a state-championship and then flying to Merry Old England for next Sunday’s epic Manchester United/Chelsea clash at Old Trafford. Yes, I am jealous.)
And let’s face it, if the topic comes up all the players involved can rightfully call themselves state champs. (The only people that care about the split are idiot sportwriters like myself.)
Give it time and both sides might appreciate what they accomplished a little more.
Amity finished 21-0-1. Trumbull was 19-0-3. Not too shabby. Should 100 scoreless minutes define a season?
As for the game itself, well, what’s there to say?
It was what it was. Both teams had chances, though Trumbull probably had a few more of better quality and looked to be sure to score late in the second half a few times. There’s a reason Quigley kept repeating the teams were “mirrors” of each other.
Amity seemed to play its best in the first half. Jessica Becker had some good looks on a goal early on. But it’s not too much of a stretch to think she’ll be having dreams of Trumbull center backs Celine Vitale and Cristini Fini.
It looked to me that after she had a nasty collision with her cheek to the noggin of a Trumbull defender late in the first half, she wasn’t quite the same. Give her credit for hanging tough and never getting substituted. She had a nasty looking welt swelling up with a minor cut under her eye. And I think (warning cheesy sentimental sportswriter cliche coming) that’s what defines a champion, regardless of two-letter prefixes.
And to me, that was the story of the game. Once again Trumbull put on a defensive clinic. Too bad this wasn’t Italy. Maybe they’d appreciate that kind of defensive mastery.
Amity tried to work the ball up the wings to track star Deanna Minasi. But whenever she took off, Kali Stamos or a help defender would track back and break it up.
I mentioned that in my game story, Lexie Lyons was my vote for Trumbull MVP. It’s not very often you see great work from defensive midfielders on the high school level, but Lyons was immense tonight. She broke up attacks then started them the other way and always seemed to be in the right position. Lyons, who coach Daniel Uhrlass said rarely shoots, took a great attempt in the 89th that nearly curled in.
As for the Amity MVP (they didn’t announce the MVPs) probably keeper Ali Horwitz. She did indeed make at least three or four quality stops and kept her team from defeat. She didn’t have a ton of work to do, but passed each test when the other option was failure.
As with most soccer games there was a little controversy in this one. The refs were generally pretty good, but did seem to give a few ticky-tack calls against Amity. This could have been deadly, but they were mostly around midfield, denying Trumbull deadball specialist Caitlin Mulligan from really really really testing Horwitz.
I’ll credit Amity’s unheralded defense for doing just enough to keep Trumbull off balance all night, too.
Another odd thing, how in the world did the officials show up with their yellow referee shirts when both Amity and Trumbull are black and gold. The official had to switch to a pinny at halftime. Then again, problems with the refs shouldn’t shock anyone involved with high school soccer. It’s sad to say that its pretty much expected and accepted.
I think this game encapsulates what is so frustrating about soccer, too. In big tournament games you can “win” without really winning.
Would the spectre of penalty kicks have forced one team or the other to really press at the end? It would have made some difference and given the game a sense of urgency.
The final thought on this game is that is Amity and Trumbull played 10, 20, 50, 100 times it’d probably finish right around .500, with a great deal of ties.
In the end, is it wrong to be a “co” something.
Co-anchors (think Burgundy/Corningstone) are just fine and dandy.
And you generally can’t fly a commericial airliner without co-pilots.
Lastly Co is the periodic table symbol for Cobalt.
Few other random things…
*** Good job outta soccer-junky Mr. Ray Curren doing play-by-play on the SportingNews CT internet feed. Sitting through back-to-back-to-back-to-back soccer games, and talking non-stop about them. That deserves a tip of the proverbial hat.
His co-host Phil Brodsky with a game effort too, particularily openly admitting his lack of soccer acumen, but still putting out a 100-percent effort. Thumbs up.
Not sure how many people tuned it, but I was one of them for the first few games. (Trying to time the exact perfect moment when to made the trek toward Hartford.)
*** I’m shocked to say the press box at Rocky Hill was downright hospitable. Chairs with backs. An non-warped table to write on. Lights. Even a friendly guy running the clock.
So what if the school’s parking isn’t that great. It’s easy to get to off the highway and the field is very good shape. Not a bad permanant site for the finals.
*** Can’t quite say that same for Willowbrook Park in New Britain. Yes, its right off Route 9 (fantastic!) and yeah, it’s somewhat in the middle of the state. But, I offer this points for your consideration.
1. The field is not even close to even, with a terrible drainage holes sinking down in two corners.
2. the press box is so remote, the clock operator need biconoculars. There is no reason a kind of clock snafu like the one that occured in the Class M final between the Joel Barlow and Suffield boys should be allowed to happen in a championship. This is why OFFICIAL time should be kept by the refs. (But eventhough that’s a logical solution, with the state of scholastic officiating, that’s not even a good thing.)
Ok. I think I’ve written enough. Feel free to agree, disagree or refute any of the opinions offered by this high school sports blogger.
Sorry, one more thing. For the final h.s. soccer related post of the year I’m going to do a variant on the all-stars for the blog only (don’t worry the all-stars are still happening, this will just be something from me). It should be pretty fun, so stay tuned.