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Jesuits stopped in final

Andrew Melitsanopoulos scored off a penalty kick in the 31st minute and Norwalk High went on to defeat Fairfield Prep, 2-0, in the Class LL boys soccer finals at Dunning Field in New Canaan on Friday.
“Disappointing yes, tough no,” Prep coach Ryan Lyddy said of his Jesuits bringing home the program’s first state title. “This wasn’t a fluke thing, which is nice…It’s just tough on these seniors that dedicated themselves for four years.
“A penalty got it off to bad footing, and you got pipes and 11 guys and refs out there, who did a phenomenal job.”
Norwalk took the lead after Santiago Muriel was taken down just inside the penalty box and only seconds before Will Steiner made the save on the breakaway.
Melitsanopoulos pushed the PK shot above Steiner’s reach to the right.
“We got lucky there with the last man back [fouling] and could have gotten a red card,” Lyddy said.
“The kid [Melitsanopoulos] is supposed to make it and did his job.”
The Jesuits (21-2-1) were tasked with slowing a quick-strike attack, while the Bears (21-1-1) needed to maintain discipline and delay Prep’s possession game.
Prep had the best chance in the contested contest between the first- and third-seeded teams.
Steiner made a great save on Kevin Joslyn off a poor clear attempt, and Davey Bruton split a pair of defenders and slipped a pass to Austin Sims, charging in on his left.
Sims put the ball past Svet Kozak, but the offside flag was raised and the goal came off the board at the 20-minute mark.
Melitsanopoulos tallied just over 10 minutes later, but that didn’t slow the pace.
Sims came in clean, only to be knocked down, and Ryan Orvis recovered only to suffer a teeth rattling foul just to the left of Kozak near the 18.
Bruton beat the three-man wall with a direct kick on target that was caught by Kozak at the near post at 33:47.
Joslyn’s shot from distance was stopped by Steiner as the horn sounded to end the half.
Norwalk had three shots and six fouls to go with one corner at intermission.
Prep had two shots, three fouls and no corners.
The Jesuits came out strong in the second session.
At 50:53, Patrick Connolly came out of the back and took the ball into Norwalk’s end, where his header led to another header from Chris Molina, which Kozek stopped.
At 52:27, Tim Frassetto passed over the top to Austin Trotta, who left the ball for Sims, whose shot was blocked by the Bears’ Michal Nowicki.
At 53:12, Stephen Tortora’s header off Kieran Bracken’s throw-in went to Sims, but Kozek took the ball off his foot at deadlock’s doorstep.
At 54:29 off a double corner opportunity, Luis Zamora and Tortora had shots blocked before it could reach the net.
Norwalk looked to double its lead when Muriel made a strong run only to be denied by Connolly.
Off the second corner to Steiner’s right, a shot caromed off the crossbar with 20 minutes remaining.
The action stayed hit, as Frassetto placed the ball high in the box that Kozek reached just before Sims.
A minute later, at 68:30, Sims’ header caromed off the crossbar in a furious Jesuit rally
Norwalk’s Nacho Navarro countered quickly, but Steiner came off line to take away the angle and earned a goal kick with 7:22 remaining.
Norwalk scored its insurance goal on a 2-on-1 break that featured Joslyn making a late pass to Navarro.
“In the second half we took it to them,” Lyddy said. “We played our brand of soccer and had them on their heels.
“We had a meeting with our sophomores at the time, and from Bruce Jaffe’s team we were going to build from the younger guys up.
“It was a nice thing to see. It wasn’t reinventing the wheel, it was hard work and dedication.”
Senior members are Will Steiner, Alex Pinkus, Ryan Orvis, Grayson Barlow, David Bigley, Patrick Connolly, Tim Frassetto, Davey Bruton, Austin Trotta, Jean Claude LeMeur, Blake Roberts, Jordan Visosky, Kieran Bracken and Matt Rahtelli.

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