STONINGTON — Stonington High's boys soccer team may be facing its most formidable task of the season when it takes on Plainville in the Class M semifinals Tuesday night, a rematch of last year's semifinal-round game.
Kickoff at Ken Strong Field in West Haven is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The No. 19 Blue Devils, the defending Class M champions, are 12-6-1 with three tournament wins. They beat Stonington last season in the semis, 2-1.
No. 2 Stonington brings an 18-0-2 record into the contest, including two tournament wins against a pair of tech schools by a combined 13-0.
The Blue Devils play a very strong schedule in the Central Connecticut Conference, and they have seen plenty of quality competition this season.
"It's the toughest conference in the state," Stonington coach Paul deCastro said. "They are very well coached, and both teams have a very similar style of play. If we score the first goal, they will not roll over."
Plainville has three losses and a win against Bristol Eastern, which was the No. 1 seed in Class L and lost in the quarterfinals.
The Blue Devils lost to Farmington, which lost in the Class LL semifinals, 3-2, to Greenwich Monday night. They also lost to Wethersfield, which lost in penalty kicks to Wilton in the Class L semifinals Monday night.
Another loss came against Glastonbury, the top seed in Class LL, which lost in the second round.
Plainville also has a top-notch player in junior Patrick Gryczewski.
"He scored five goals against Nonnewaug (a 6-1 second-round win). He is very creative and he strikes the ball very well. He can shoot from distance. And obviously they have some other guys that can create," deCastro said.
Stonington, which won the ECC Division I tournament, has been led by senior Tyler Fidrych and sophomore Sam Montalto. Fidrych has 23 goals and 32 assists, while Montalto has 31 goals. Fidrych's assists are a school single-season record, as are Montalto's goals.
But deCastro said it's been the emergence of others that has contributed to the season's success, too.
Rhys Hammond, Will Sawin, Elias Dahl, Billy deCastro, Alexander Tobiassen, Ethan Allen-Fernandez, Cole DeVoe, Will Cannella and goalie Peter Fernholz have all had their moments.
Coach deCastro is uncertain how the Blue Devils will play Montalto and Fidrych.
"Obviously, they know about our top guys. But they can't man mark everybody," deCastro said. "We've talked about the things we can do to move those guys around and create space.
"A lot of sophomores and juniors, who had a limited role last year, have stepped up this season," deCastro added. "They know how to play and a lot of them play year-round. There is something about this group that I really like. They are certainly very determined and I think they really want it. We certainly know we have the ability to win the game."
No. 1 Ellington and No. 12 Ledyard play in the other semifinal in New Britain Tuesday at 6 p.m. The winners meet Saturday in the the title match at a site and time to be determined.