Boys soccer: Gaels lose to Jesuits in SCC semifinals

The Shelton High boys soccer team had handed Fairfield Prep its only loss of the season.

So, when the Gaels met the Jesuits in the Southern Connecticut Conference semifinals on Tuesday everything was up for grabs at Rafferty Stadium.

No. 2 seed Prep used a pair of penalty kicks and a dagger-like goal late in the second half to emerge with a 3-0 victory and a spot opposite No. 1 seed Xavier-Middletown in Thursday night’s title game in West Haven.

The Jesuits (16-1-1) had the best of play in the opening half, but it was until Jose Garcia Mina drew a penalty kick at the 18:38 mark that Prep broke through against Shelton keeper Isaac Garcia, who made 17 saves.

Garcia guessed right on the PK; Mina slotted the ball to the left for a 1-0 lead.

Coach Isaac Montalvo’s sixth-seeded Gaels (11-6-1) played with both patience and purpose after the break.

Anthony Russo moved up from his center back position to guide Shelton from center midfield, With crisper passing, the Gaels were able to solve the defensive riddle that had served the Jesuits so well in the first 40 minutes.

Vince Mallozzi took a pass from the back and looked to find Jonathan Diaz on a breakaway, but Prep keeper Ryan Cowles (6 saves) came off his line to snatch up the ball five minutes into the second frame.

The Gaels earned the match’s first corner in the 31st minute, when Mallozzi took a pass from Diaz and ripped a shot that Cowles was able to tip wide. Erik Lorent’s kick into the box was cleared.

Prep looked to work the wings. But Shelton’s back three, especially Nick Turco, was able to turn aside every rush.

The Gaels’ next best opportunity to draw even came with 14:25 remaining.

Lorent pushed the ball to Russo, who took an extra dribble to create space and earn the second of four Gael corner chances in the stanza. Mallozzi and Cowles collided in the box and Prep was awarded a goal kick.

Jack Neary got the ball to Lorent at the top of the 18-foot box at the 8:10 mark, but his shot was swallowed up and kicked back by a group of defenders.

Prep countered a minute later when Axel Whamond broke in from the right side, but Garcia made an outstanding save.

The Jesuits got the insurance goal it needed at 4:18 when Mina took a pass from Whamond and deposited it top shelf. Garcia had no chance to make a stop.

Prep was given another penalty kick with 3:05 left and Whamond put it home.

Shelton and Prep split decisions in the regular season: the Jesuits winning the first game 3-1 and the Gaels taking the second 2-1.

Roundup: Shelton advanced to the Southern Connecticut Conference semifinals with a 1-0 double overtime victory over previously unbeaten Daniel Hand on Sunday at the Surf Club in Madison. An own-goal with 1:25 remaining in the second overtime decided the contest.