MERIDEN -- The more the Class L girls soccer championship game progressed, the more it felt like it probably would end in a draw, leaving Avon and Masuk to split the spoils.
Either that or it was going to take a moment of individual brilliance to break the scoreless deadlock.
Unfortunately for fourth-seeded Masuk, playing in its first state final, that moment came in the form of Avon sophomore Stephanie Saccoccio.
Saccoccio's goal in the 66th minute proved to be the difference, lifting No. 2 Falcons to a 1-0 victory Friday afternoon at Falcon Field and their second straight Class L crown.
"It boiled down to that one shot," Masuk coach Eleanor Brainard said. "It was a hell of a game between both teams. We battled back and forth."
Neither side created very many opportunities throughout most of the game.
Avon, playing in its fourth consecutive state final, didn't give Masuk much room to attack, leaving little work for its senior keeper Kaylan Conrad.
The Panthers' best sustained run of play came in the final minutes of the first half.
A minute before the break a high ball from Masuk forced Conrad to come off her line and quickly punch it away inches from the on-rushing head of Panthers forward Jamie Madden.
Masuk finished the Class L tournament without a goal from open play in its last three games.
"Maybe, when I sit back and talk to them, maybe they were too focused on defense instead of attacking them," Brainard said.
"The second half we had some good stuff going on, we just didn't shoot enough."
Masuk didn't give Avon's attackers much room to operate either. Panthers defenders Diana Antenucci, Taylor Courbron and Alexandra Bica threw their bodies around to block numerous attempts by the Falcons.
Avon still managed to force Masuk (16-4-2) keeper Megan Fitzgerald into making two fine saves, the first a double-stop on Catherine Jordan 15 minutes into the first half and the latter a point blank denial of Lauren Miller in the 64th minute.
Two minutes later, Saccoccio gave Fitzgerald no chance to play the hero again. Masuk was unable to clear an Avon corner kick all the way out.
Instead it fell right to the feet of Saccoccio, an outside back, unmarked outside the box. She lined up her shot and powered it into the upper right far corner.
"I hit it pretty well so it got to where I wanted it to," Saccoccio said.
Said Fitzgerald, "It was a good shot, she did a good job."
The win gave Avon (18-1-2) the Class L title along with the unlikely quirk of winning each of its four playoff games against opponents from the SWC, culminating with Masuk on Friday.
"To run the table, in the SWC, I feel like this is like a league championship for us," Falcons coach Jim Murray said. "We're fortunate to survive and be state champions again."
The loss for Masuk was bittersweet.
After years of falling short in the state semifinals, the Panthers -- playing without three injured starters -- finally broke through, only to be undone by a single goal.
"The kids did a hell of job and achieved something no other Masuk team achieved, and it was all through hard work and teamwork," Brainard said. "It's a solid group of kids who showed up every day and worked hard."
Class L Final
At Falcon Field, Meriden
AVON..................................................... 0 1--1
Records: Masuk 16-4-2; Avon 18-1-2; Goals: A--Stephanie Saccoccio; Goalies: M--Megan Fitzgerald (4 saves); A--Kaylan Conrad (2)