A tough task for No. 17 seed Shelton became more difficult after No. 16 seed Greenwich took the lead in their Class LL first-round state tournament game on Tuesday.
Shoki Araki gave the host Cardinals the lead only 1:47 into the second half, when he corralled a free ball and put it in the back of the net.
The Gaels (10-6-1) looked to level things, but Greenwich keeper Jimmy Johnson tipped Vinnie Mallozzi’s free kick from 25 yards out over the frame with 27:26 remaining.
Greenwich (10-3-4) went on to win 2-0. It will travel to Middletown on Thursday to take on No. 1 seed Xavier High (15-0-1).
“We knew Greenwich would be a very hard team and a challenge for us, but I thought we were prepared,” said Shelton coach Isaac Montalvo said. “I am proud of my boys. They played with heart, they played with sportsmanship and respect and I am so proud of them. Hopefully next year, we can come back stronger.”
Mallozzi, who had extra opportunities with Greenwich concentrating on Erick Lorenz, had shots on net in the 27th, 28th and 30th minutes only to have Johnson make stops.
“The key for us was neutralizing Erick [Lorent)…He scored a big chunk of their goals,” Greenwich coach Kurt Putnam said. “Ryan Smith gave him respect, but played disciplined. Our whole team played to the level that we can play at. When we are on our game, we are a tough team to break down.
“Jimmy [Johnson] pulled out a few great saves to keep them out, but when you look at the chances that we blew, good chances, it could have been a bigger margin. I think that may have been unfair to Shelton who fought hard this game.
“In balance, I think 2-0 was a fair result. They [Shelton] are a good side. Today, we did a good job of executing our game plan.”
Aden Cuellar scored with 7:45 left to take the score to 2-0.
Anthony Russo and Nicolas Turco were staunch defenders for the Gaels, who had to contend with a talented GHS team that countered quickly and was equally adept off passes to the feet or over the top.
Shelton keeper Isaac Garcia made 12 saves.
Shelton’s midfield was led by Jack Neary, Chris Conrad, Jonathan Dias, Stylianos Mysirlidis, Justin Sanzo, Alex Coleman, Connor Gil, Zach Prindle, Ian Sevillano, Max Henning and Eric Lopes
Deven Papadimitriou, Jason Lorent and Scott Shea took turns helping in the back.
“Anthony Russo and Isaac Garcia are team captains, and they were great leaders,” Montalvo said. “I wish them and all of our seniors the best. Sports are not a race but a marathon and some will play at the next level.
“All these boys represented Shelton with honor.”
Notes: Nicolas Turco, Justin Sanzo, Zach Prindle and Jonathan Diaz came off the field with injuries. They were all able to return.