A late goal by the Branford High boys soccer team proved to be the difference in the Hornets’ 1-0 hard-nosed win over Jonathan Law in Milford on Monday afternoon.

In a game that featured a fracas resulting in one player from each team being sent off with straight red cards, and an additional yellow card issued to Law later on, it came down to a wayward clearance landing on the foot of Branford’s Ben DeMaio.

DeMaio collected the loose ball and sent it past Law keeper Daniel Majkut with 12:34 left to play.

“They are a good team, they did what they needed to do,” Law head coach Mike Gruber said. “They finished when they had a chance to finish and we didn’t capitalize on the chance we had.”

The game-winning goal came just under nine minutes after a lengthy stoppage following a scrum at the 21:20. Law sophomore midfielder Jonathan Contaxis was shown a red card.

Then, after reviewing video of the incident recorded from atop the pressbox, Branford’s Juan Leon-Munoz was also given a red and the team’s finished with 10-aside.

Lost in the shuffle was a strong defensive effort from the Lawmen (1-2-1), led by seniors Troy Anderson, Kyle Goglia, Colin White and junior Andrew Frenzel in the back.

“Our team played hard for the whole eighty minutes,” Gruber said. “We defended well and we did what we needed to do to get a draw. That one chance, that did it.”

Law created a pair of good chances in the first half, one coming early on a breakaway by Will Contaxis that was stymied by Hornet keeper Praneeth Ganedi.

In the 32nd minute, the Lawmen won a free kick just inside midfield, leading to another opportunity. Lex Edwards drilled the ball into the 18-yard box, where Jonathan Contaxis and Matt Evanko battled the Hornet defense to get a touch before it was cleared.

“We’ve played them the last three years, they’re always well-coached and the kids are very committed,” Gruber said of Branford. “So we knew they could knock the ball around. Our game plan was to apply a little bit of low pressure on them and sneak out a chance or two. To their credit, they defended very well.”

It was the second consecutive loss for Law, following a 3-0 defeat to visiting Amity of Woodbridge on Friday.

Gruber liked the way his team responded against Branford.

“After our loss to Amity, we were a little deflated, but they came out hard and it was nice to see the effort that was there,” he said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result but it’s going to bode well for us into the season.”