Litchfield boys soccer beats Windsor Locks, 5-1 behind Shanks and Mello. Top ranked Old Saybrook on deck Friday.
LITCHFIELD: After ten-day layoff that included a first round bye in the Class S Boys Soccer Tournament, the Litchfield boys knew they would have to start fast against a strong Windsor Locks team from the NCCC.
Junior Carson Mello made sure his team would shake off any rust just over eleven minutes in by scoring the first of his two goals in an eventual 5-1 Cowboys win at Plumb Hills in Litchfield.
Their reward is a match up with the No 1 seed in Class S, Old Saybrook on Friday on the road but on this day, that was the last thing the team or their head coach was thinking about.
Heck, head coach Rob Andrulis wasn't exactly sure what to think of his team, considering their ages.
"I thought we were a year away,"Â Andrulis said. "We have eight players returning next year from this team so this is kind of a nice surprise."Â
The Raiders came in ranked No 9 with a 10-5-1 mark and possessed an opportunistic offense that relied on the counter to set up their goal chances.
After breaking free for the games first score, Mello was at it again a little more than six minutes later off a free kick that made its way to Mello who made a move past the Raiders goalie for the easy score.
"Coming off the bye," Mello said. "We knew we were going to be a little slow so we had to get our intensity up quickly."Â
Windsor Locks kept the track meet pace up though and broke though later in the first half when junior Caleb Tarbell found the back of the net for his team's first goal.
Litchfield had to be careful at this point not to let the visitors all the way back into the game and did so on a heads up play by freshman Tim Donovan.
Donovan intercepted a short goal kick and drove on goal, connecting on a blast from the top of the box, giving the home team that two goal margin once again.
When you watch the Cowboys, their ability to move the ball and control the middle of the field sticks out at you, as does the player who makes sure that area is controlled whenever he is on the pitch.
Junior Charlie Shanks is that player. The player who slows things down for his teammates and creates chances for both himself and his teammates.
"He uses his vision so well,"Â Andrulis said. "He's so good with the ball on his feet. He may not be the fastest guy out there but he makes the smart pass."Â
At the half, up 3-1, Andrulis knew he game was at a critical juncture.
"I told them in the shed at the half that if we put one in early in the second half that the game would change completely,"Â Andrulis said. "And it did."Â
That fourth goal was created by Shanks and was a thing of beauty.
The talented junior picked off a pass at midfield and made his way towards the goal and his blast from just outside the box found the left side of the net and this one was in the books.
Litchfield would benefit from an own goal late in the game for the final score and took some time to celebrate with the fans who packed the hill to support their team, who will now have to pull a bit of an upset on Friday if their season is to continue.
Considering they may not have seen themselves at this level this year, it's kind of house money on Friday when they hit the road to battle the top seed.