CHESHIRE, Nov. 9, 2022 – For 40 minutes and one half, everything was going according to plan for the Avon High boys soccer team in Wednesday night’s Class L second round game at Cheshire High.
The Falcons had a one-goal lead over top-ranked Cheshire thanks to Braden Gilbey’s team-leading 17th goal of the season off a corner kick from teammate Lucan Monteiro.
“We got a bit disorganized due to Avon’s goal,” Cheshire High coach Artur Branco said. “That was a surprise. We lost our composure and moved away from the game we play.”
It was back to business in the second half for the Rams. Cheshire scored six goals in the second half, including three goals in the first 12:12 of the half to eliminate No. 17 Avon, 6-2, and advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round.
Kevi Sulollari had three goals while midfielder Samir Dishnica had a goal and five assists. He had a piece of each scoring play for the Rams, who improve to 13-3-1.
“He’s doing his job just like everyone else,” Branco said. “He is only as good as the people around him so he did a tremendous job today but that is also due to the work of everyone else around him.”
Gilbley had two goals for the Falcons, who finish the year at 9-6-3, including one a penalty kick late in the second half. Goalie Buster Akers had a busy day in net, punching out several shots and crosses across the crease of the goal.
“We had a game plan to change our formation and try to frustrate them,” Avon coach David Zlatin said. “They have a ton of talent out there. We were committed, engaged and vocal. They were great. But, it always a big ask to do that for 80 minutes and (Cheshire) showed their talent in the second half in bunches.”
Avon took a 1-0 lead on a corner from Monteiro that Gilbey headed into the net with 23:43 remaining in the first half. The Falcons spent the rest of the half trying to slow down the pace of the game. Defensively, they had the stamina to stay with a quick Cheshire team that sought to run and push the ball upfield at every opportunity.
But in the second half, Cheshire found space to pass the ball to wide-open teammates. “Our kids dug down deep and really wanted to make it happen,” Branco said.
With just 2:11 gone in the second half, Cheshire tied the game when Dischnica ripped a hard shot that deflected off Aker’s hands to a wide-open William Stearns, who quickly popped the ball into the net
Less than three minutes later, Dischnica found Sulollari wide open on his left and Sulollari ripped a shot that got past Akers for a 2-1 lead. Cheshire made it 3-1 six minutes later when Dischnica send a pass to his right to teammate Ellis Sulollari, who immediately passed it back to Dischnica for another goal.
“The counterattack on the second and third goal was at a lightning pace up field and was impressive,” Zlatin said. “They had a very rapid, fast-paced attack.”
Two more goals from Kevi Sulollari off feeds into the box from Dischnica boosted the lead to 5-1.
Gilbey scored his 18th goal of the season with 14:10 remaining on a penalty kick after a Cheshire player was called for a hand ball in the penalty box.
The Falcons had 10 seniors on the squad that has won a combined 18 games in the past two seasons.
“We had such character, rallying from deficits and dealing with difficult situations,” Zlatin said. “Such competitiveness. This team is so unselfish. We have strikers who are willing to play defense late in games. Guys were willing to do whatever is asked of them for the team.”
Cheshire 6, Avon 2
Avon (9-6-3) 1 1 — 2
Cheshire (13-3-1) 0 6 — 6
Goals: Braden Gilbey (A) 2, William Stearns (C), Kevi Sulollari (C) 3, Samir Dishnica (C), Colin Brown (C); Assists: Dischnica 5, Ellis Sulollari (C), Lucas Monteiro (A); Goalies: Buster Akers (A), Eli Diesendorf (A), John Taeca (C); Shots: Cheshire 16-5; Corner kicks: Cheshire 8-3