The Wilton U11 boys defeated Westport by a score of 3-2 on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Farmington Sports Arena to win the Connecticut State Cup, making them only the second Wilton team to do so in the past 15 years. That they did so under heavy rain and cold temperatures was testament to their skill and team commitment.
See their celebration video, BELOW…
The Connecticut (CT) Cup is a single-elimination, bracket-style tournament played every fall at the U11-U14 age groups for both boys and girls. The top travel teams from Connecticut are eligible to participate. This year, a total of 74 CT travel teams, from small towns to large cities, participated in the boys U11 bracket. Although Wilton was one of the teams favored to win the tournament, the boys found themselves on the tougher side of the bracket, having to play some of the larger towns (Norwalk, Wilton White, Bristol, WAM (Willington, Mansfield, Ashford) United and West Hartford).
They ultimately faced Westport in the finals. With an undefeated CT Cup run, an undefeated record in southwest-district CJSA league play, and an undefeated record against Westport over the past few years, Wilton went into the Championship game with a cautiously optimistic attitude.
Under cold and rainy conditions and with a slick turf, the championship game got underway with a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. Nerves started to kick in for the Wilton side early on. Within three minutes of kickoff, things began to rapidly unravel for Wilton with a quick Westport goal from one of their midfielders. No more than two minutes later, Westport caught Wilton off-guard again with a second goal to make the score 2-0 within the first five minutes of the game.
The Westport team was fired up but the Wilton boys began to calm down and play their game. After looking dazed and confused for the first 10 minutes, Wilton controlled the remainder of the first half. The strong defensive tackles and impressive quickness of Tyler Casey, Max Andrews and Christian Furst and the goalkeeping efforts of Jack Lynch kept Westport from getting any further chances in the first half.
The relentless and physical play of Zarius Eusebe and Owen English, combined with the play-making ability and skill of Andrew Zizzadoro and Parker Woodring became too much to handle for the Westport defense. At the 20th minute, English blasted a shot from 15 yards out, deflecting off a Westport player and into the back of net for Wilton’s first goal, to make it 2-1.
With greater confidence, Wilton began to attack at a more persistent pace. With fresh legs off the bench, Tyler Moody helped out in spectacular fashion of his own. In the 30th minute, Andrews set up to take a 40-yard free kick with several Wilton players lined up within the 18-yard box. Andrews blasted a low line-drive into the box to find Moody, who flicked the ball into the back of the net off a bicycle kick from 5-yards out to tie the game at 2-2.
In the second half, Wilton continued to contol the game. Feisty play and quick ball movement from Conor Lillis, Jack Dodman, Malcolm McCormick and Dillon Mannix helped support Wilton’s dominance. Momentum continued to shift in Wilton’s favor with a relentless attack combined with sturdy defense.
Zizzadoro and Woodring’s creativity in the middle of the field continued to give Wilton chances to score. With 15 minutes left in regulation time, English rocketed a shot off the post for a near goal. With 10 minutes remaining and the game on the line, Woodring blasted a left-footed shot off the left post and followed with another shot just over the crossbar.
While Wilton controlled the field in the second half, Westport relied on quick counter-attacks. A few scary moments were thwarted by Wilton’s defenders and the goalkeeping ability of Lynch. With an overtime situation pending and 5 minutes remaining, Zizzadoro’s quick footwork allowed him to beat two Westport players in the 18-yard box. Zizzadoro then faked a shot with his left foot, cut to his right, and blasted a shot past the Westport goalkeeper into the lower-right corner of the net for the game winner. Anxiously awaiting the final whistle, Wilton was finally able to celebrate their 3-2 victory as Connecticut Cup Champions!
A little history on this team…
Many of the boys have been playing together for four years, since they were U8. They are a uniquely unselfish group of talented players and friends who really enjoy playing together. The boys have competed in top travel and premier tournaments over the years in CT, NY and NJ, beating high-quality teams along the way. They rely not only on individual skill, but more importantly teamwork and relentless determination. Last Spring, they beat New York State Cup Finalists, FC Somers, to win the Fishkill Tournament in NY. As a small town competing against larger cities, its very difficult to win the Connecticut Cup or to compete against top NY/NJ clubs. The team has been very lucky to have great professional coaching throughout the years. Micky Canning, from Ireland, has done a great job coaching the boys this season, working the boys hard while keeping it fun. Former coaches, Danny Pelletier and Renato Topalli also significantly contributed to the boys successes over the years.