It wasn’t the sort of goal Joe D’Auria, head coach of the Shelton boys soccer team, expects his team to score a lot of this fall — a long ball from Connor Prindle to Mikey Sciortino — but that was how the Gaels got what turned out to be their only net-finder in salvaging a 1-1 tie with visiting West Haven, on Monday night at Finn Stadium.
Prindle sent an airborne pass to a streaking Sciortino, who gathered the ball near the top of the 18-yard box, got control, turned, and blasted a low shot to the right of West Haven goalkeeper Garfield Robinson just before the midpoint of the opening half.
The Blue Devils evened the score when Salah Oumorou Jr. capitalized on a penalty kick after a pull-down in the box, just 1:38 into the second half.
Neither team could break the deadlock, despite some close chances, including a few opportunities generated by Shelton’s Isajiah Robles.
Sciortino, only six minutes after his goal, was set up by Robles on a goal line cross, but missed just wide. Then there was a second-half rip off the crossbar from the right side by Ryan Widomski, who took a feed from Robles. Jay Shea made a nice run for a long ball off the foot of Robles late in regulation, and got behind the defense, only to be stymied by Robinson. Sciortino passed to Ryan Smith, who missed wide on another opportunity.
D’Auria was pleased with his team’s handful of chances, but wished the Gaels had capitalized on at least one more.
“That’s not how we typically play. I think we got a little desperate at times,” D’Auria said of his team’s propensity to try to convert off long passes. “We’re not built that way, we don’t practice that. The game dictated the style of play to where it was really direct.”
The match had its share of physical play and tense moments. Prindle was injured in the second half during a battle for the ball, igniting an exchange of words between players on both teams. The back-and-forth chit chat continued and one of West Haven’s players received a yellow card for a hard slide tackle.
West Haven had some nice ball movement and dominated control in the opening minutes. “We sat back; we saw what they had,” said D’Auria, noting that what the Blue Devils had was some speed up top that the Gaels had to counter.
Shelton limited West Haven’s scoring opportunities, and Gael keeper Casey Cisero made a handful of stops.
Sciortino, a junior, is getting accustomed to varsity play after previously playing at the JV ranks, and was thrilled to contribute with a goal.
“It felt amazing,” said Sciortino. “it was a fun game. It was good experience.”
The Gaels had won their opener, blanking Xavier from Middletown, 2-0 behind goals by Prindle and Connor Kristiansen. Looking ahead, D’Auria said he wants the Gaels to work hard in practice for upcoming games. “I want us to stay composed,” he added.