WEST HAVEN, Conn. — Maybe it is, indeed, their turn.
The Stonington High Bears turned in a stellar performance Tuesday night, shutting out defending champion Plainville, 4-0, in a semifinal-round game of the Class M state boys soccer tournament at Ken Strong Stadium.
No. 2 Stonington (19-0-2) will face No. 1 Ellington (19-0) for the Class M title on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Dillon Stadium in Hartford. Ellington beat Ledyard, 3-0, in Tuesday's other semifinal.
It will be Stonington’s first title game appearance since a 2-1 loss to Rocky Hill in 1994.
The Bears have been wearing shirts in practice this season with “Our turn” on the front and Nov. 23, the date of Saturday’s title match, circled on the back.
Stonington avenged a loss to No. 19 Plainville (12-7-1) in last year’s semifinals with Tuesday’s victory.
“We really didn’t want anyone in the public to see it,” Bears coach Paul deCastro said of the shirts. “But we made it there. That was our goal — to get there. When you get to the finals, anything can happen.”
Stonington’s Sam Montalto and Tyler Fidrych scored two goals each. Fidrych also had an assist.
“This year we came in and we wanted to get back [to the state tournament],” Fidrych said. “We were so close [to a title] last year. We’ve been getting closer and closer every year, and we just think it’s our year.”
Stonington took a 1-0 lead at the 23:51 mark of the first half. Plainville played a ball back to its keeper Joey Ramondi, but Montalto pursued the ball, too, and the two collided just inside the 18-yard box.
Ramondi was called for a foul, and Fidrych converted the ensuing penalty kick for his 24th goal of the season and 1-0 lead for the Bears.
“When we scored the first goal, it changed what they wanted to do,” deCastro said. “They are a really good defensive team. When we got that first goal, it was big.”
Stonington made it 2-0 with 10:12 remaining in the first half, and once again it was Montalto’s speed and hustle that made the difference.
Montalto received a ball from Fidrych with a defender on his back. He was able to turn, push the ball ahead and outrun two Plainville defenders before getting off a shot just inside the 18-yard mark.
Montalto delivered the ball to near left post. The ball caught the post and rolled just across the line before striking the right post.
“Instead of going long over the top, I got to his feet and he did the rest,” Fidrych said.
Montalto scored his second goal off the night and 33rd of the season with 23:04 left in the game, driving home a loose ball with a left-footed rocket from 25 yards out.
Fidrych closed out the scoring with 12:30 left, putting home a rebound of his own shot.
Despite all the goals, the Bears defended up and down the field, allowing just one shot on goal. Stonington controlled long stretches of the game. Plainville could not apply any sustained pressure against the Bears.
The Bears have outscored their playoff opponents 17-0.
“We defend with 11 players; you don’t defend with four,” deCastro said. “I can’t express how happy I am for all the guys. They played great tonight.”