Warriors Take OT Loss to Old Saybrook in State Quarters
Senior captain Tucker Burr and the Valley boys’ soccer squad saw their season come to a close with a 4-3 overtime defeat against Old Saybrook in the quarterfinals of the Class S State Tournament on Nov. 14. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)
Senior Andrew Salbinski and the Warriors defeated Terryville and Hale-Ray in the opening rounds of states to advance to a quarterfinal matchup versus rival Old Saybrook last week. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)
Senior Simon Partyka and the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team finished with an overall record of 13-6-2 for the 2021 campaign. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)
After reaching the semifinals of the Shoreline Conference Tournament, the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team entered the Class S State Tournament as the No. 10 seed last week. The Warriors notched victories in their first two games of the draw to advance to the quarterfinal round, where they took a 4-3 overtime loss against Old Saybrook on Nov. 14.
Valley had earned wins versus Terryville (5-0) and Hale-Ray (6-1) in the first two rounds of states prior to facing Old Saybrook. The Warriors finished their season with an overall record of 13-6-2 after losing to the Rams in OT.
“We knew we got a good draw. If we could get through those first two games, we knew we were going to play Old Saybrook,” Head Coach Mick Fearon said. “The goal for the kids was to advance as far as possible in the State Tournament. We lost six games between the regular season and Shorelines. Five of the six came against Morgan or Old Saybrook. They were our Achilles’ heel.”
Valley hosted No. 23 seed Terryville in the first round of the Class S State Tournament on Nov. 9. Senior vice captain Jake Burdick and sophomore Jake McKenna both scored two goals, and senior Jorge Lanza Duron added a goal as the Warriors posted a 5-0 win. Senior goalkeeper Ian Silva made four saves to get the shutout in net.
“We started off pretty strong. Midway through the first half, we got two goals in quick succession. It set us on our way to playing well in that game. We moved the ball pretty well,” said Fearon. “In the first 10 minutes of the second half, we scored three more goals. When you’re 10 minutes into the second half and you’re up 5-0, it’s a good feeling. We needed to get that little extra boost of confidence. It was a perfect game for that.”
On Nov. 11, Valley faced No. 26 seed Hale-Ray at home for a second-round states game. The Warriors jumped out to a 2-0 at halftime lead on goals from Burdick and senior captain Tucker Burr. Burdick and Burr each added a goal for Valley in the second half. McKenna and junior Michael Kollmer also found the back of the net in the latter stanza to lift Valley to a 6-1 victory. Silva made five saves for the Warriors, who also saw freshmen keepers Kenneth Batt and Cameron Castanzo get some playing time in goal.
“It was a little similar to the Terryville game. We went into halftime up 2-0. We scored three minutes into the second half,” Coach Fearon said. “Up 3-1, you’re still not sure if you’re going to win. Getting three goals in the last 13 minutes was big. They needed to see the ball go back into the net.”
Heading into the quarterfinals, Valley was ready to take on No. 2 seed Old Saybrook. The two teams had faced off twice during the regular season with the Rams winning both matchups. Round three got underway at Old Saybrook High School on Nov. 13.
Valley grabbed a 2-0 lead behind goals from Burdick and sophomore Deryck Llivichuzhca. However, Old Saybrook answered back by scoring three straight goals to take a 3-2 advantage. With 1:30 left in regulation, Burr scored for the Warriors to knot the score back up at 3-3. Shortly into overtime, lightning would strike as thunderstorms rolled through the state, postponing the remainder of the contest to the following day.
Valley and Old Saybrook returned to the field on Nov. 14 and resumed their hotly contested battle that saw just one shot on goal in 18 minutes of overtime play that day. That shot resulted in a goal that turned out to be the game-winning score for Old Saybrook, which advanced to the semifinals with a 4-3 victory.
“We started off well. We scored after three minutes. Six minutes into the second half, we went up 2-0. Within five minutes, it was 2-2. It was a little disappointing we couldn’t hold that lead a little longer,” said Fearon. “We ended up scoring with 1:30 to go, which was a good reply from the kids. In overtime, one of their players got free in the box and scored. Coming back the next day was difficult. There was only one shot in the 18 minutes. It happened to be the goal.”
Coach Fearon said that the Warriors’ experience up the middle proved huge in helping them make the state quarterfinals this year. With Silva in net, senior Andrew Salbinski playing center back, and Burr, Burdick, and senior Simon Partyka in the midfield, the Warriors featured a group with years of experience patrolling the middle of the pitch. That experience allowed the Warriors to play their style of soccer and go on a nice run in states.
“We weren’t very deep as a roster. We had a lot of freshmen and a few sophomores. But the players who have been involved over the last four years were all involved down the middle,” Fearon said. “They’ve all been playing together since they were 10 years old. We had a good blend down the center. That was something that made us stronger than we have been in the past.”
The last time that Valley boys’ soccer had reached the state quarterfinals was in Class M back in 2016. As his team look to build off of this year’s postseason success, Coach Fearon is hoping that the returning Warriors will use what they learned during the playoffs to their benefit next fall.
“I hope we can become a more consistent program going forward. In Class S, we always have a good chance. I just hope that the experience that the boys got in Shorelines and States this year shows them how hard they have to work as a team,” said Fearon. “Next year will be: Can they continue how we played this year? We’ll see if we can go a little bit further in both tournaments.”
The Valley Regional boys’ soccer team’s roster features senior captain Tucker Burr; senior vice captain Jake Burdick; seniors Ian Silva, Andrew Sablinski, Simon Partyka, Jorge Lanza Duron, Anthony DaRe, and Jackson Rock; juniors Reed Beighau, Samuel Hutchinson, Michael Kollmer, Jake McKenna, and Benjamin Costanzo; sophomores Deryck Llivichuzcha, Tyler Ruel, and Lucas Silva; and freshmen Kenneth Batt, Cameron Costanzo, Drew Delouchry, Jack McPherson, Caleb Winkley, Nathan Crown, Tucker Norton, and Birch Whitbeck.