Fourth-seeded Avon eliminates Notre Dame
The season has come to a crushing end for the Notre Dame-West Haven soccer team.
After feeling the thrill of victory in a first-round win after penalty kicks, the Green Knights saw that same fate go against them in the second round at Avon.
Playing to a 1-1 tie through regulation and overtime, No. 20 Notre Dame and No. 4 Avon went to penalty kicks to decide which team went to the Class L quarterfinals.
Avon advanced to play Brookfield when it defeated the Green Knights 3-2 in penalty kicks to win the contest 2-1.
“The kids played really hard against a very skilled team,” Notre Dame coach Rudy Raffone said. “They are ranked fourth and they had one loss the whole year. The kids gave us an opportunity to win. In sports, that’s all you can ask for.”
The Green Knights (8-8-2) scored early in penalty-kick action against Wethersfield in the first round then rode the goalkeeping of freshman Joe Bongiorni.
Notre Dame was looking for the same formula last Thursday afternoon against Avon.
That recipe, however, never materialized.
Avon (13-1-3) won the toss and elected to go first, going against a move usually made as teams prefer to go second to have the ability to win on the last kick.
The move worked, however, as Avon scored first and immediately put the pressure on Notre Dame.
Gianni Giugno got that goal back to even the contest at 1 and get the Green Knights going once again.
After Bongiorni made a stop on Avon’s next attempt, Notre Dame could not capitalize to take the lead.
Avon scored the next two attempts, sandwiching a goal by Connor Shortell. When The Green Knights’ final attempt by Mark Lightowler sailed wide, Avon advanced to the quarterfinals.
“I thought we played great,” Raffone said. “Our schedule during the year really helped us. We were tournament tested. Playing Fairfield Prep, Xavier, West Haven, Hamden and Shelton helps. They are all good soccer schools.”
After playing a scoreless first half, each team scored in the second half.
Avon took the first lead of the game just 5 minutes into the second half when Aaron Leopold beat Bongiorni for a 1-0 lead.
That lead held for 17 minutes before the Green Knights were able to strike back.
With 18 minutes left in the season for Notre Dame, Greg Padilla scored off an assist from Jesse Kader to even the game at 1. Padilla’s goal put the momentum on the Green Knights’ side but they were not able to build off the goal.
“After he (Padilla) scored, I was pretty confident we were going to win either in regulation or taking them to penalty kicks,” Raffone said. “Their goalkeeper (Sean Lanahan) did a great job. He stopped two shots (penalty kicks).”
Avon had 14 shots in the game and Bongiorni showed how bright the future is for Notre Dame, making seven saves.
Notre Dame finished with 10 shots and Sean Lanahan made four saves.