Kyle Gil is one of 10 Shelton High seniors looking to repeat as SCC boys soccer champion.
With four minutes remaining in regulation, it was Gil who kept second-seeded Gael hopes alive with a free kick goal from 30 yards out when the locals took on seventh-seeded Hamden High in the SCC quarterfinals on Saturday.
And it was Shelton’s sophomore keeper Isaac Garcia, who smothered the Green Dragons’ fifth and final shot in the PK segment to give coach Joe D’Auria’s Gaels a 5-4 PK (1-1) win at Finn Stadium.
Shelton will host No. 3 Cheshire in Tuesdays semifinal at 6 p.m. The Rams defeated West Haven, 3-2, in their quarterfinal.
Garcia was matter-of-fact when discussing his difference maker.
“My coaches help me get prepared mentally and technically for every game,” said Garcia, who stonewalled the left-footed Emmanuel Yeboah to end the rotation that had seen nine straight kicks find the back of the net. “I did it for the team. Now we have another game to get ready for.”
D’Auria was a little more verbose when talking about Garcia’s accomplishment.
“PK’s can be a little hinky and there is a little bit of luck involved,” he said. “While yes there is more pressure on the shooter, Isaac prepares every day at a high level, and plays at a high level, every game. We were confident he would find a way.”
The Green Dragons had taken the lead on Jordan Pattavina’s corner kick, which deflected off a Gael defender 25 minutes into the contest.
While Shelton had the better of the possession game, it was Hamden keeper Marcus Anthony Carrington who was player of the match for coach Ralph Romano’s tenacious Green Dragons.
Time after time, the junior read the Gael attack and came off line to snare the ball away, leapt in the air to take away nine Shelton corner chances, or found a way to deflect shots away from the net.
“We never gave up,” D’Auria said. “We had a couple of real good opportunities and their goalie made some very good saves.”
Shelton never attacked better than in the second half, but it took Gil’s free kick to equalize the game.
Gil delivered a strong kick that went through the box undefended and into the net to tie things at 1-1 with four minutes remaining.
The rivals played through a pair of 10-minute golden goal overtime sessions, before the game was decided on penalty kicks.
Shelton shot first and received tallies from Nicola LoBello, Sean Beacham, Khaleed Dawkins, Mikey Sciortino and Jeff Santos.
LoBello’s shot carried in off Carrington’s right hand and Sciortino drilled his through a two-hand stop attempt.
Hamden answered with PK goals from Pattavina, Osman Cayan, Declan Ryan and Andrew Kirschenbaum.