NEWINGTON – In a battle of CCC unbeatens, Middletown had to chase Newington after the Pride built a two-goal advantage in the first 23 minutes of Thursday’s match.
The Blue Dragons responded, scoring twice in the final 15 minutes of the first half in an eventual 2-2 tie in CCC boys soccer action at Newington High School.
“We started slow, and I thought on the two goals by Newington (scored by Jack Stair and Vincent Nguyen), I don’t think our defenders played to their capabilities,” Middletown coach Sal Emanuele said. “We should have done better in the back. It took those two goals to wake us up a bit.”
Middletown’s Dario Rigano was taken down inside the box and converted the penalty kick two minutes after the Pride scored for the second time.
The surge in Middletown led to the equalizer – a hard shot from 25 yards out by Zach Lombardo, his ball clanging off the post and then off keeper Xander Ford. Marshall Butler set up the score.
The Blue Dragons remained unbeaten (5-0-1) at the halfway point of the regular season.
“To the kids’ credit, they didn’t put their head down after falling behind,” said Emanuele. “We started playing with some urgency and we continued to press and attack. You can’t start slowly against a team like Newington because they’ll make you pay, but I was pleased to see us come back and keep our heads in it.
“In the second half we pressed them and kept attacking trying to get the third goal. We dominated play and had most of the possession. Newington was dangerous on counterattacks.”
Ford had 17 saves for Newington (4-0-2).
Griffin Ladd had seven saves for the Blue Dragons, who are scheduled to host Rocky Hill on Tuesday (3:45pm).
Elsewhere around the county on Thursday:
Cromwell 1, Haddam-Killingworth 1
HIGGANUM – Joe Salafia’s goal with eight minutes left in the match gave Cromwell the Shoreline Conference tie and preserved the Panthers’ unbeaten start to the season.
“I was very proud of the players’ efforts today,” Cromwell coach Angelo Morello said.
After a scoreless first half, Cole Merriam’s goal gave H-K (2-1-2) the lead.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Morello said. “I thought H-K did a nice job of taking us out of how we want to play. Play was very choppy and a bit dirty.”
The Panthers (3-0-2) got six saves from keeper James Grodzicki. H-K keeper Cal Braren had two saves.
Cromwell stays close to Old Lyme in the Shoreline standings. The Wildcats improved to 4-0-1 after beating Coginchaug 6-1 on Thursday.
Old Saybrook 5, Valley Regional 0
OLD SAYBROOK – First-half goals by Gannon Efinge, Bradley Kulmann and Nick Rothman were more than enough to propel the Rams to their Shoreline Conference win.
The loss ended Valley’s three-match win streak to start the season.
Rothman and Cam D’Angelo scored in the second half for Old Saybrook (3-1-0), which had an 18-16 shot advantage.
Keeper Matt Rothman had 10 saves for the Rams. Jan Silva and Jackson Bisson combined for six saves for the Warriors.
Newington 7, Middletown 1
MIDDLETOWN – Junior Annetta DelPrado scored the Blue Dragons’ first goal of the season on a free kick from about 40 yards out Thursday.
The unassisted goal came in the 21st minute of the first half.
Olivia Mullings scored two goals and Emily Chojnicki, Isabella Stair, Olivia Bernier, Emma dos Santos and Michelle Novikova also converted for Newington. The Pride outshot Middletown 15-4.
Victoria Correll made 13 saves for the Blue Dragons (0-6).
Coginchaug 3, Old Lyme 1 (25-22, 20-25, 21-25, 16-25)
Abby Speckhals had 21 assists for the Wildcats (2-3), while Abby Sicuranza had 10 kills and Melanie Warren contributed 21 digs.
Westbrook 1, Morgan 0
Brooke Neri scored for Westbrook with an assist from Cierra Brundage. Westbrook goalie Lauren Horne had six saves. Morgan goalie Abbie Gordon had two saves.