McCarter scores late to send Wethersfield to Class L boys soccer final

Wethersfield boys soccer coach Robert Jachym addresses his players after the Eagles beat Guilford 1-0 at Naugatuck High in the Class L state semifinals on Wednesday.

Wethersfield boys soccer coach Robert Jachym addresses his players after the Eagles beat Guilford 1-0 at Naugatuck High in the Class L state semifinals on Wednesday.

Joe Morelli / Hearst Connecticut Media /

NAUGATUCK — Neither the Guilford or the Wethersfield boys soccer teams had allowed a goal during the first three games of the CIAC state tournament. So something was bound to give Wednesday night.

There were scoring opportunities, but not many on net. And both defenses were able to snuff out other chances before they turned into shots. It was only going to take one goal to send a team to the Class L state championship game this weekend.

That goal belonged to William McCarter. The senior scored off a rebound deep into the second half for No. 12 seed Wethersfield, which defeated No. 9 Guilford 1-0 at Veterans field.

“It’s surreal. It means the absolute world to everybody,” McCarter said. “We give it everything we got. Half these guys have been playing all of their lives together. We’ve been dreaming about this and talking about this ever since we came to high school and to see it actually unfold, it’s a dream come true.”

Goalkeeper Justin Hess and an underrated defense was able to pitch 10 shutouts all told this season for the Grizzlies.

“Their defense was organized and it was physical,” Wethersfield coach Rovert Jachym said about Guilford. “They wore us down … We needed to win it in regulation, I felt like.”

Wethersfield (14-3-3) will now face No. 14 Fitch in the Class L championship game Saturday or Sunday at Dillon Stadium in Hartford, time to be announced.

The Eagles’ last trip to the final was in 2015. Their last victory came in 2008.

McCarter had been putting pressure on Guilford’s defense often up until the goal. But it was teammate Samuel Johnson that had the original shot, a line drive that Hess saved.

“I dribbled and beat some people and I took the shot,” Johnson said. “Honestly, I thought the ball was going in when I shot it. I almost started to celebrate, but the keeper made a great save. And Will was there to finish it.”

The ball bounced back out to McCarter. The ball found an actual hole in the bottom right portion of the net, then went rolling well beyond the playing surface. But it was still a 1-0 lead with 15:03 left.

“They told me to ‘Crash the net, crash the net, crash the net.’ That’s how goals are scored in these tough games. That’s what I did and that’s how we got it done,” McCarter said. “I just got a foot on it and it went in. It’s kind of an instinct thing. You have to hit it as fast as you can, I got a good hit, it squirted right in and it was amazing.”

Jachym had mentioned the confidence a scoreless tie in the regular-season finale with Hall had given the team heading into the state tournament.

“Lucas Almeida (Hall’s forward, who has verbally committed to play at UConn), we shut him down,” Jachym said. “We’ve been putting up zeroes (on defense) ever since that game. … I hope we have one more zero on the board.”

This was the fourth trip to the state semifinals for Guilford (14-5-2) in the past six years — and there was no state tournament last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other three trips ended up losses to eventual state champion Hand.

“When you get to this point, it’s the best of the best,” Guilford coach Curtis Gullette said. “We are proud to be in that conversation every year. One of these days, it will go our way.”

Player of the game

William McCarter. Wethersfield: Scored the winning goal off a rebound with 15:03 left to get to his first state championship game


I think we really showed ourselves proud at the end. They put nine guys back (on defense) and that makes it tough. We would have done the same thing.”

— Guilford coach Curtis Gullette