Prep defeats Tigers for league title

The Fairfield Prep soccer team defeated Daniel Hand, 0-0 (3-2 in penalty kicks), to win the Southern Connecticut Conference title on Oct. 29, at East Haven High School.
Sophomore keeper Daniel Szabo earned tournament most valuable player honors for the fifth-seeded Jesuits, shutting out the second-seeded Tigers from Madison and kicking the game-winning penalty.
“No one was going to stop us… I knew I had to step up and do it,” said Szabo, a Trumbull native. “It’s amazing, I always wanted to play at a high level like this.”
The game was a scoreless deadlock over the course of 100 minutes, 80 of regulation and a pair of 10-minute extra-time sessions. Szabo needed to make just four saves prior to PKs, while his Tiger counterpart, Charles Henry, made six stops.
“I think it was a great game,” Prep head coach Ryan Lyddy said. “We’ve been doing very well in the last eight, nine, ten games, whatever its been. The best thing about it is our kids stuck together, they fought through 100 minutes of soccer.”
Hand (14-1-4) took the first penalty, with senior captain Cole McArdle’s attempt parried away by Szabo. Nick Kelly then buried a low shot to the right side, past Henry, to stake the Jesuits to the 1-0 edge.
The next Tiger kicker, John Gulcicek, missed the target wide left, but Prep’s Pablo Martinez lifted his shot over the crossbar.
After Alex Cinicolo leveled it at 1-1 for Hand with a blast past Szabo, Henry denied Julio Ojea Quintana.
Ryan Monico, Hand’s other captain, had a chance to put the Tigers in the driver seat, but Szabo came up with the momentum-swinging stop.
Chris Montani then reestablished Prep’s one-goal margin on the ensuing attempt and Nathan Gould, after a false start on his first conversion, drilled a second shot past Szabo to make it 2-2.
That set up Szabo’s heroics, with the sophomore lashing a hard shot into the back of the net to give Prep its third SCC championship in four years — and fourth overall.
“We had it all set up, we’ve been practicing that, he was number five,” Lyddy said. “I think it was fitting tonight, his award he got.”
State tournament roundup
The Jesuits, riding a nine-match unbeaten streak following a defeat to Boston College High School (Mass.) on Oct. 2, came out on the losing side of penalty kicks in the first round of the Class LL state tournament on Nov. 3.
Facing No. 13 seed Conard (12-4-1), the 20th-seeded Jesuits fell, 1-1 (5-3 in PKs). Montani scored Prep’s goal in regulation, before the Chieftains won it on kicks.

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