Nick Ianni scores game-winner for Gaels
For the second time this season, the Shelton High boys soccer team put together a masterful performance against Sheehan of Wallingford only to have it melt away like ice in the summer sun.
Only this time, the Gaels were not about to settle for anything less than a win.
Shelton was just over two minutes away from walking off Finn Stadium with a disappointing 2-2 tie, a result that would have been heart-breaking for a team that has its sights set on winning a Southern Connecticut Conference Housatonic Division title.
But senior Nick Ianni was in the right place at the right time, heading in a corner kick by senior captain Matt Manzo with 2:08 left to give Shelton a stunning 3-2 victory Wednesday night in a game head coach Joe D’Auria said his team absolutely had to have.
The game-winning goal helped Shelton avoid another tie against Sheehan, which escaped with a 1-1 deadlock on Sept. 23 after the Gaels had three goals disallowed.
“Our season was on the line. Our Housatonic season was on the line,” said D’Auria, whose team improved to 8-1-2 with the victory. “They knew it, and they executed. And that was great to see.”
With time dwindling down, Shelton was awarded a corner kick. Manzo, instrumental in allowing the Gaels to dominate possession early with his solid play at center midfield, lofted a great ball from the right corner to the left post. Caught in a crowd, Ianni somehow got his head on the ball and sent it past Sheehan goalie John Oliveira (9 saves) on the right side of the net.
“We worked hard all game, so it felt good to cash in. It was a big division game for us,” Manzo said. “There’s nothing better than getting a good team goal at the end.”