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Friday, January 19 Sports

New Milford boys rally past Amity in Class LL soccer tournament opener

NEW MILFORD — New Milford High School boys soccer coach Greg LaCava described senior Chase Schuster as a jack-of-all-trades sort of player, one who has played well no matter what role he’s been asked to fill or what position he’s been asked to play.

As it turned out, scoring a clutch goal with the fate of an entire season hanging in the balance is just one of the many things Schuster does well.

Because that’s exactly what he did in the Green Wave’s 4-3 triumph over Amity in the first round of the Class LL state tournament Monday evening.

With the score tied at 3 in the 66th minute of a back-and-forth battle, Schuster collected a nifty pass from Shane Fedigan, made a quick move around the goalkeeper and booted home the go-ahead goal.

“Chase has been working hard all season. He’s a very positive kid,” LaCava said. “He works hard every day. It was his turn. He got the nod to start today, and he made the most of it. He was clutch today. He gave us valuable minutes and a big goal.

“He’s one of those kids I can use anywhere on the field, in the back, up top,” LaCava added. “He’s got unbelievable speed and pace, and his work rate is phenomenal.”

Schuster’s goal came less than five minutes after Fedigan cashed in on a loose ball in front to tie the game at 3. It was Fedigan’s alert pass that set Schuster up for the goal.

“I saw the goalie coming out, and I knew I just needed to place it,” Schuster said. “I’ve listened to my coach say throughout our practices: placement over power.”

Schuster placed it perfectly, and booted New Milford into the second round.

The seventh-seeded Green Wave (12-3-3) will host 23rd-seeded Danbury in the second round Wednesday at 2 p.m. The Hatters upset 10th-seeded Ludlowe in penalty kicks Monday night.

“We’re happy we’ll be home again on Wednesday,” LaCava said. “We’ll get back to work tomorrow and prepare.”

FIGHT TO THE FINISH

It was a tough way to bow out for 26th-seeded Amity, although the Spartans (8-8-1) certainly went down fighting.

“I’m unbelievably proud,” Amity coach Mike Marchitto said. “These guys, from the way we started the season to the way we finished, they played perfectly. They did exactly what I wanted, and I couldn’t ask for anything more. They’re wonderful kids, too, one of my favorite teams I’ve ever had.”

ROLLER-COASTER RIDE

The teams matched each other goal for goal in the first half and went into halftime tied at 2. Ethan Trim had put New Milford on the board first in the 20th minute, and Thomas Kanter tied it seconds later off an assist from Zachary Young. Peter Wunderlich put New Milford ahead 2-1 in the 24th minute, scoring off a long pass from Trim, and Kanter tied it again in the 30th minute, this time off an assist from Luciano Artaza.

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Young gave the Spartans their first lead of the game win the 59th minute off a sensational assist from Kanter. Kanter hustled into the corner to save a pass that appeared to be headed out of bounds, then crossed it on front to Young for the goal.

Fedigan then tied it for New Milford 62nd minute, and Schuster untied it in the 66th.

“We fell asleep a couple times, and they’re a good team, so you can’t do that,” Marchitto said.

The Spartans had a golden opportunity to tie the game with less than three minutes remaining when they were awarded a penalty kick after New Milford was whistled for a hand-ball in the box. Kanter took the shot and fired wide right.

New Milford goalkeeper Brandon Romero made seven saves to seal the win, while Amity’s William Hunter made six saves.

NEW MILFORD 4, AMITY 3

Class LL, first round

AMITY2 1 — 3

NEW MILFORD2 2 — 4

Records: Amity 8-8-1; New Milford 12-3-3. Goals: A—Thomas Kanter 2, Zachary Young; NM—Ethan Trim, Peter Wunderlich, Shane Fedigan, Chase Schuster. Assists: A—Young, Luciano Artaza, Kanter. Goalies: A—William Hunter (6 saves); NM—Brandon Romero (7 saves).

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