WINDSOR, November 14 – The Avon High boys soccer looked good during Wednesday night’s Class L semifinal against No. 17 Maloney-Meriden. For most of the game, the Falcons were able to crisply move the ball around the field.
But there was one thing that No. 12 Avon couldn’t do – score a goal in regulation or in overtime — despite taking 40 shots in the game.
Maloney didn’t score either as Falcons goalie Max Frodermann made seven saves to earn a shutout – his eighth of the season.
Maloney came through on penalty kicks, beating the Falcons, 11-10 in the third round of PKs to earn their first-ever berth in a state championship game. At the end of the first round, Maloney could have advanced if Josue Arraez made a penalty kick but Frodermann stopped him forcing a second round. In each round, the two teams took five penalty kicks each.
They were tied 4-4 after the first round. After the second round, it was tied 7-7. In the third round, it was 10-10 after four kickers.
Avon’s Alex Rostenberg fired a low shot to the left of Maloney’s sophomore goalie Devin Juan, who was able to dive and get a piece of the ball to make a save. That gave Arraez a second chance to win the game with a penalty kick. This time, he scored to give Maloney the victory.
Avon outshot Maloney, 40-14 with Juan making 25 saves in net for Maloney on this frosty 29 degree evening. Avon hit four cross bars in the game. The game wasn’t four minutes old when Michael Zelazny ripped a shot from 25 yards away that hit the top of the crossbar and bounced straight down, nearly spinning into the goal.
With 7:11 left in the second overtime, Ryan Bartkiewicz hit the crossbar after he broke free and raced in on Juan. Bartkiewicz again hit the crossbar on a shot with 2:40 remaining in regulation.
“That’s soccer,” Avon High coach David Zlatin said, shrugging his shoulders.
No. 12 Avon (12-5-3) was looking to return to the state championship game for their 17th finals appearance and first since 2015.
“It was a fantastic effort,” Zlatin said. “We had the better chances. We just couldn’t put it away and then we went into that lottery which is penalty kicks. That’s a lot of pressure for teen-age boys but I thought we handled it well. There were so many swings in emotion.
“I am very proud of the effort in the regular season, in the tournament and tonight,” he said. “It came down to penalty kicks and we just came up a little short.”
After playing 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, the goals showed up in the penalty kick portion of the contest with Maloney converting on 11 of 15 penalty kicks and Avon scoring on 10 of 15 PKs.
“We knew they were a solid team and there were certain things we had to defend,” Maloney coach David Parness said. “We just found a way. That’s been our tournament run. Bend but don’t break and find a way at the end to get it done.”
The Spartans beat Bristol Eastern in the first round on penalty kicks, 4-3, and then upset No. 1 Wilcox Tech in the second round, 2-1 with the game-winning goal coming with 12 minutes left in regulation from Lamar Thaxter.
In the quarterfinals, Maloney ousted No. 8 Branford, 2-1 with Denis Blandon getting the game-winning goal with 3:30 left in regulation.
Against Avon, the Spartans looked content to furiously defend for much of the game. They frequently had two players collapse on the ball when an Avon player was looking to pass it away. They had a few runs to the goal but not too many.
Defenders Devin Quinlan, Bradley Rosenberg and Stapleton did a good job defensively in the backfield for the Falcons.
Maloney advances to Saturday’s Class L championship against No. 3 Hand (15-1-3) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Middletown High School.
Afterwards, the Falcons were stunned with several players shedding tears with the sudden end to their season. “I told the boys in the huddle that they probably don’t want to hear this but this was our best regular season in the CCC by far. We beat Farmington and tied Glastonbury,” Zlatin said.
Maloney 1, Avon 0, OT (11-10 PK)
Maloney (11-4-5) 0 0 0 — 0
Avon (12-5-3) 0 0 0 — 0
Saves: Max Frodermann (A) 7, Devin Juan (M) 25; Shots: Avon: 40-14; Corners: Avon, 8-2; Penalty kick goals: Thomas Keenan (A) 2, Ian Stapleton (A) 2, Frodermann (A), Ryan Bartkiewicz (A) 2, Michael Zelanzy (A), Romi Eldah (A), Bradley Rosenberg (A); Alex Skrzyniarz (M) 2, Denis Bladen (M) 2, Lamar Thaxton (M), Eli Lopez (M) 2, Josue Urena (M); Josue Arraez (M), Ivan Bruce (M), Alejandro Garcia (M)