Guilford boys soccer earns tie with No. 2 Hand behind the play of goalkeeper Justin Hess

Photo of Scott Ericson
Guilford's Justin Hess.

Guilford's Justin Hess.

Scott Ericson / Hearst Connecticut Media

GUILFORD — Hand had more possession of the ball, more shots on goal, more corner kicks and more free kicks but at the end of the evening could not get anything past Guilford keeper Justin Hess.

The junior keeper made several stellar saves in the face of an offensive onslaught and was able to help Guilford escape with a 0-0 tie against rival Hand at Bittner Park Wednesday night.

“My mindset is the same always. We have great defenders with me and all we are trying to do is set up and compact ourselves,” Hess said. “I probably only faced 20% of the shots because of the defense. We have three centerbacks who work well together.”

Hand, the No. 2 in the CSCA Class L/LL CT High School Boys Soccer Coaches Poll this week, has not lost since falling to Guilford 1-0 on Nov. 6, 2019 in the SCC Championship game.

Hand has not lost in the regular season in over two years, a 3-1 loss to Shelton on Oct. 5 2019.

Hand has not lost in 25 straight since losing to Guilford in 2019 SCC Championship, going 23-0-2. That includes the Tigers run to the 2019 CIAC Class L State Championship.

Wednesday night, the Tigers had chance after chance but could not get a goal.

Ten minutes into the second half, Hand appeared to break through but the only ball that got past Hess was disallowed for a foul in the box.

In the second half, Hess stopped a 1-on-1 chance by Hand; dove to his left for a full-extension save and stopped another seemingly wide-open scoring opportunity.

In addition to being thwarted by Hess, Hand also hit the post twice in the game.

“I was really happy with our overall performance. I think we dominated the game but their goal keeper pulled off three worldies. Fantastic saves,” Hand coach Neil Phillips said. “If I want to be really nit-picking I would say we can use our free kicks more. We had a few free kicks around the 18-yard box that we probably could have put lower. I think we did everything right this evening but we just didn’t put the ball in the back of the net.”

Hand routinely won possession and worked the ball up field for quality chances but the goal never came.

“It was important that we were patient moving the ball around the back,” Hand striker Dante Crudo said. “We had a lot of chances but doesn’t necessarily mean we will score them. We are looking to build off that.”


Justin Hess, Guilford, Jr., GK: Despite the Guilford defense packing it in and playing five on the backline, Hess was still called upon to save the game for the Grizzlies. He made 10 saves in the game, the majority of which came in the second half.


“We are glad to have him back there,” Guilford coach Curtis Gullette said. “It gives our defense confidence having him back there. We were playing with five backs and we still needed Hess. He gives us that confidence and he is just the ultimate goal keeper. He leads by example, he communicates with the boys, he’s leading and telling them exactly where they need to be. It’s great to have goalie like that.”; @EricsonSports


HAND 0 0—0


Goalies: H—Tim Perez 1 save; G—Justin Hess 10 saves