A solid season for Shelton High’s boys soccer team came to an end in the first round of the Class LL state tournament, on Tuesday night.
No. 15 Wilton blanked the No. 18 Gaels 2-0 under a light but steady rainfall.
The Gaels put together a good possession game, but couldn’t manufacture many shots until falling behind. A pair of Harrison Allers’ goals propelled the Warriors into the next round, and Wilton goalkeeper Mitchell Bascom stopped a handful of second-half shots after his defense prevented the road team from mustering a first-half shot on goal.
One of Shelton’s best chances came late in the first half when Ryan Smith stole the ball in the right corner, dribbled to the goal line and crossed back toward the top of the 18=yard box. Isajiah Robles was denied a shot but the ball made its way to Connor Prindle, who blasted the ball over the top of the goal.
In the second half, Shelton’s offense, including James Hunter, tested Bascom, although every shot the Gaels put on the net came from long range. Danny Castro had a chance on a rebound off a free kick, but missed wide.
“We couldn’t finish at all,” Shelton head coach Joe D’Auria said.
Smith contributed on the defensive side of the field as well as up front, blocking a shot from the goal line during a scramble in the second half. Shelton goalkeeper Casey Cisero came up with stops to keep his team in the game, but the chances were limited at the other end of the field.
Shelton earned five corner kicks in the game, three of which came in the final five minutes of regulation.
The Gaels had a rewarding season — which included the program’s first Southern Connecticut Conference title.
D’Auria noted that his large senior class – 15 players – brought great experience to the table. His final-year players were part of the U14 State Cup winning team, and a lot was expected of them.
“It’s very frustrating,” D’Auria said of being eliminated in the first round. “The potential of this team was tremendous.”
Shelton overcame a slow start after being hit hard with injuries early on in the campaign. The Gaels, after winning their opener and earning a tie in the second game lost three straight and four of five contests.
“We bounced back from there,” said the coach, whose team went on to win six straight games en route to a 10-5-1 record.
Wilton, which went 10-3-3 this fall, moves on to face second-seeded New Milford in the second round, on Thursday.
The Gaels will lose seniors Cisero, Hunter, Castro, Smith, Kenneth Schif, James Shea Jr., Austin Foley, Prindle, Liam Keary, Connor Kristiansen, Tommy Douong, Justin Widomski, Alex Donoso, Gino Fiore and Ryan Widomski.