MONTVILLE — After beefing up its confidence and its record against a collection of sub-.500 teams, the Stonington High boys’ soccer team faced a litmus test this week against the iron of the ECC-Medium.
Coming off a 4-0 loss to undefeated Waterford Tuesday, the Bears played recent Medium power Montville tough for most of the game Thursday before losing 2-0.
The Bears (6-2-1, 3-2 ECC-Medium) played the Indians (5-3, 4-1 ECC-Medium) to a scoreless first half, and Stonington coach Paul deCastro felt good heading into the final 40 minutes.
“We didn’t get off to a good start in the first 10 minutes but we settled down and played really well in the last 30 minutes,” he said. “I thought we had grabbed momentum.”
But Stonington was called for a handball just 54 seconds into the second half. Josh Handler converted the penalty kick to make it 1-0.
“I was blocked out and didn’t see what happened,” deCastro said. “The official told me it was a blatant hands call.”
Tom McDaniel scored with about 12 minutes left in the game.
Stonington was outshot 5-3 and none of its three shots required a save. Steve Zelepos made four saves for the Bears.
Despite the losses to Waterford and Montville, a pair of top 10 ranked teams in the state Medium-Small School Coaches Poll, deCastro feels the Bears, who were also ranked No. 9 in that poll heading into the week, can benefit from this experience of playing division title contenders.
“We knew Waterford and Montville would be tough opponents,” he said. “But now we know where we really stand. Hopefully we can make adjustments and play much tougher the second time we play each team.”
Stonington plays at Norwich Free Academy Monday at 3:45 p.m. in an ECC out of division game.