FARMINGTON, Nov. 7 – The defending Class L state champion Farmington High boys soccer team withstood the pressure thrown at them in Thursday night’s Class L tournament game, outlasting No. 9 Avon, 2-1, in a rematch of last year’s Class L championship game at Tunxis Meade Park.
Avon put seven shots on goal in the second half and made Farmington goalie Jeff Crook work to earn the victory that moves the Indians (17-1-3) into the Class L quarterfinals.
Being under siege is nothing new to the No. 8 Indians, who won the CCC West championship and captured the initial CCC soccer tournament as well.
“Our season prepared us for that (Avon surge),” Farmington coach Steve Waters said. “We’ve played 38 halves of soccer (this fall). We’ve been under stress in most of them. We understand that we’re a team people want to beat.”
Avon (14-4) had several opportunities to tie up the game in the waning minutes. Riley Strassner had a few shots on goal in the final minutes along with leading goal scorer Bobby Zaino (25 goals).
With 50 seconds in regulation, Avon’s Daniel Leszcynski made a nice cross through traffic in front of the goal mouth to Zaino. With a 1-on-1 opportunity with Crook, Zaino sailed the ball high over the crossbar.
“I’m proud of the way we played, especially in the second half,” Avon High coach David Zlatin said. “We really took it to them. Our effort was tremendous from all 11 guys. We created several good scoring opportunities.”
Avon had a few chances early in the game but Farmington dominated a majority of the first half with some precision passing and good hustle to the ball. The Falcons, playing Farmington in a regulation game for just the second time since 1989, took a 1-0 lead with 2:30 left in the first half.
Liam Stensen picked up the ball at midfield and was able to weave through the defense, making a hard cross to Sean Janson (11 goals), who rifled a shot into the left side of the net.
Farmington responded quickly. With 43 seconds remaining, Farmington’s Matt Stroka passed the ball to teammate Evan Hughes who buried a shot into the upper right corner of the net to tie the game at halftime.
The Indians took a 2-1 lead on an outstanding play in front of the Avon net. Kamil Kolacz, crossed the ball to Sabri Akter, who was one-on-one with Avon goalie Marcus Husted. Akter took the ball on one hop and headed the ball into the net with 34:15 left in the game.
Avon didn’t wilt and kept the pressure on Farmington.
“Ever since our loss to Somers, we’ve been extremely focused. We haven’t had a bad performance. We may have gotten beat, like tonight or to Suffield, but it wasn’t because we played poorly,” Zlatin said.
Since dropping a 3-2 decision to Somers on Oct. 3, the Falcons had won eight of their last nine matches by a combined score of 48-2 with seven shutouts including a 4-0 victory over North Haven in the first round of the Class L tournament.
“They’re a much better team that we played in the preseason,” Waters said of Avon. “Their possession, their shape and their system of play is well-defined.”
NOTES: The game was a rematch of last November’s Class L championship game with the Indians prevailing, 5-0. … Farmington leads the all-time series, 18-14-1 … It was just the second game between the two schools since 1989 when Avon beat the Indians, 3-2 on penalty kicks in the Class M semifinals also here at Tunxis Meade.
Farmington 2, Avon 1
Avon (14-4) 1 0 — 1
Farmington (17-1-3) 1 1 — 2
Goals: Evan Hughes (F), Sabri Aktar (F), Sean Janson (A); Assists: Liam Stensen (A), Matt Sroka (F), Kamil Kolacz (F); Saves: Marcus Husted (A) 8, Jeff Crook (F) 4; Shots: Farmington 19-12; Corner kicks: Farmington, 4-3