A strong season — the most successful win-loss campaign in program history, in fact — came to an end for Shelton High’s boys soccer team in a 2-0 setback to Farmington in the Class LL state tournament quarterfinals at Finn Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Sixth-seeded Farmington withstood No. 3 Shelton’s strong play in the opening half and broke a scoreless tie just 1:25 into the second half, when Nate Hughes scored the first of his two goals by capitalizing on an opportunity off a free kick.
In the end, both teams generated a handful of shots at the goal, but the Gaels couldn’t produce many chances in the second half as the Indians controlled the play.
“In the first half I thought we had this game. We dominated,” Shelton coach Isaac Montalvo said. “I’m so proud of these kids. They worked so hard.”
Shelton goalkeeper Isaac Garcia was aggressive in breaking up a chance high in the 18 yard box less than 10 minutes into the second half.
Garcia, who made two saves, had plenty of help from his defenders and defensive-minded midfielders.
Anthony Russo, Nick Dingwall, Kelan Smith, Khaleed Dawkins, Andrew Cordes, Jack Neary and Cameron Boyce were among the Gaels who blocked shots and tackled or contested well in Shelton’s back third.
Shelton may not have had many chances in the last 40 minutes of action, but when the locals did get deep into Farmington’s defensive end they came close.
Tyler Carvahlo had a clean look from straight on, and about 20 yards out, and launched a hard shot that sailed just over the crossbar with 7:35 remaining.
Chris Conrad made a nice move on a defender near midfield and used his speed to race down the right side before his cross was cleared with about three minutes left.
The Indians finally got some breathing room on a Hughes’ netfinder with 51 seconds showing on the scoreboard clock.
“The higher you go the more painful it is. It’s much harder to lose,” Montalvo said of his team advancing deep into the tourney.
Still, this was a successful campaign, as the Gaels posted a 13-2-1 regular season mark.
“That was a great season. We had excellent players. We had an excellent team,” the coach added.
The Gaels will graduate a dozen players.
“It’s heartbreaking to see these guys leave,” Montalvo said.