Put the Amity High and Shelton High boys soccer teams on the same pitch, and you’re going to get a high-level contest with plenty of skilled players on both sides of the ball making plays.
The Gaels (4-4-3) and Spartans (9-1-1) met for the second time this season Friday afternoon in Woodbridge, and the Southern Connecticut Conference Housatonic Division rivals played to a 1-1 draw.
Shelton won the first meeting 4-0, the only blemish to date on the Spartans’ schedule.
“We got three very legitimate goals in that game [the first one] and maybe one gimme,” Shelton coach Joe D’Auria said. “Our strategy today was to come in here and give them all they could handle right off the bat.
“I think it backfired a bit. They probably had the better of play before we made some defensive adjustments in the middle.”
The teams had to deal with unseasonably cool temperatures and winds which traversed the field and, at times, made ball control a tricky issue.
Shelton’s Matt Manzo scored with two minutes remaining in the first half, and Amity countering with a penalty kick by Ricky Mayer at 62:00 to produce the deadlock.
Outshot only 6-5 in the first half, Shelton took the lead on Manzo’s goal, a bullet-like shot from distance.
It just got in under the crossbar to Griffin Volta’s right.
Volta, a 6-5 junior, used his size and range to stop 11 shots.
“This was the tale of two halves,” said Amity coach Mike Marchitto, who has put a very creative team on the field this year. “They did an excellent job in the middle and possessed the ball well in the first half.
“Our tempo was off. Once we were able to slow it down, we played much better in the second half.”
Mayer got his opportunity on a hand-ball call against the Gaels in the penalty-kick area.
He tucked the ball in behind Shelton keeper Claudio Lobello, who made six second-half saves and 13 for the game.
The final 17 minutes were played at times at a frenetic pace.
The Spartans were able to come up with three corner kicks, while the Gaels worked the ball well.
Manzo had a good chance late, but an Amity defender cleared the ball before he was able to get a shot off.
Amity remained atop the SCC Housy standings with a 3-1-1 mark, while Shelton is second at 2-1-3.
Manzo teamed up in the midfield on Friday with Fernando Alvarado, Guiterres DeSouza, Brett Peterson and Matt Brouillette.
Daniel Lisi and Matt Stoll played up top with Austin Kothary, Craig Foley, Joe Stein and John Hunter on defense.
Alvarado, DeSouza, Foley, Stein and Brouillette are part of a group of 10 seniors on the team.
“This is pretty much what I expected today,” D’Auria said. “We always have a tough result here. But the way we’ve been playing lately, I’ll take this. Now we have to go back to the drawing board and see what we can do in our final regular-season games.”
Brouillette scored a goal in the second half and the Gaels defeated Sheehan High, 1-0, in Wallingford on Monday.
Lobello had four saves, as Shelton improved to 5-4-3.