Cowboys get by Mountaineers in 2-OT, 3-1. Quarterfinals on Saturday versus Immaculate on deck.
TORRINGTON: None of it should have surprised anyone who had seen these two teams play each other just 13 days ago.
Two hard playing, physical Berkshire League teams going at in a grudge match that held a little more importance this time because it was a second round Class S State Tournament game.
Litchfield (No 2, 13-2) faced off against BL foe Housatonic (9-7 with a large *, more after) at the Robert H Frost Complex after the game had to be moved from Litchfield because of the field conditions at Plumb Hill in Litchfield.
Off the strength of a pair of goals by Cowboy star Charlie Shanks and another by fellow senior standout, Tim Donovan, Litchfield will be moving on to the quarterfinals thanks to a 3-1 win in double-overtime.
The teams had split their regular season games with the Cowboys taking the first match by a 4-0 final in the season opener for both teams way back on September 11.
Housatonic got their revenge at a most critical time when they knocked off Litchfield 1-0 on October 25, in a game that the Cowboys may have been caught looking ahead to their next game, the following day against Lewis Mills.
Things would work out though as the Mountaineers took care of the Spartans in the final game of the regular season by that same 1-0 score, forcing Mills and Litchfield to share the BL title in 2018.
Let’s talk about the Mountaineers record and their 9-7 mark which landed them on the road, thanks to a No 15 ranking.
Four of those losses came via forfeits earlier this year after it was determined Housy had used a player who was academically ineligible during those games, all wins.
A 13-3 mark would have put the Mountaineers at a much higher seeding and this game might have taken place farther down the state slate.
“That is one terrific team,” head coach Rob Andrulis said. “We may have seen them in the finals if we got there.”
For 81 minutes and 42 seconds, this one was a dead heat. Tough, physical, make sure you know the other guy is there kind of soccer on every possession.
Shanks and Donavan had been largely blanketed most of the game but with the amount of time these two players have played together over their stellar careers, it was only a matter of time before they willed their team to break onto the scoreboard.
Just 112 seconds into the first extra frame, Donovan got a bit of separation down the left side and placed a cross that found his friend who slammed a right footed shot into the far-right side of the Housatonic net.
“What a beautiful play by Donovan on that goal,” Andrulis said. “I had told them before we started the overtime that we had counted on them all season and it was their time.”
It would take just a little over three minutes for Shanks to strike again and increase the Cowboys lead to 2-0, a seemingly insurmountable lead considering the defense the No 2 seed was playing at the time.
It might have felt that way, but it wasn’t reality as the Mountaineers roared back :47 seconds into the second overtime off the strength of a goal from Lucas Calhoun, who found the back of the net off an assist from Luke Mollica.
With 5:40 left in the second overtime, Shanks returned the favor from his teammate by setting Donovan up for his teams third and final goal.
The Cowboys will return to Torrington on Saturday when they will host No 23 Immaculate at a time to be determined.
Immaculate got by No 10 Hale Ray by a 2-0 final in their opener and disposed of No 7 St Paul by a 3-1 final on Thursday in Bristol.