The best soccer season in Fairfield Prep's history ended one stop short of the program's first state championship.
Norwalk's Andrew Melitsanopoulos converted a penalty kick in the 31st minute and Nacho Navarro added a clincher in the 78th minute to propel top-seeded Norwalk to a 2-0 victory over No. 3 Prep in the CIAC Class LL final at Dunning Field.
"Disappointed is a word that you want to use, but I'm just so happy for the seniors that got us this far," Prep coach Ryan Lyddy said.
Melitsanopoulos provided a lead as Norwalk (21-1-1) was the far superior side in the first half, controlling possession and playing a short passing game to open space.
"They did a good job," Lyddy said. "There was one ball that went through, and they got a PK and put it in. That's part of soccer. It is what it is."
The Bears tried to serve the occasional long ball to spring their top scorer, Kevin Joslyn. And the Norwalk forwards were effective pressuring the Prep backfield, which did an excellent job to keep the halftime deficit to one goal.
"We wanted to take it to them," Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said. "We didn't want to sit back. We wanted to be aggressors from the start, and we did that in the first half. We were fortunate to get a goal and I thought we could have had a few others."
Melitsanopoulos had converted a penalty kick against the Jesuits' Villanova-bound keeper in a preseason game.
"I was so nervous going against him," Melitsanopoulos said. "I was lucky to get it past him today."
Norwalk's clinching goal was beautiful soccer, with Navarro, back after missing the semifinal win over Stamford due to a hamstring injury, alone in front, converting a touch pass from Joslyn.
Prior to Navarro's goal the Bears faced some anxious moments, as No. 3 Prep picked up its pace in the first 20 minutes of the second half, taking six shots.
"I'm very proud of what they did in the second half," said Lyddy. "We took them totally out of their game. We were down here on the attack 90 percent of the time. It's unfortunate we couldn't put one in."
The most exciting sequence came in the 68th minute, when Sims hit the post off a long throw in by Tim Frassetto.
"We had multiple opportunities and we just couldn't tie it," Lyddy said Monday.
Norwalk quickly went on a transition attack, and Navarro got free on a breakaway, but he was stopped by Steiner when he attempted to dribble around him rather than shooting.
"These guys have been through a lot," Laughton said. "It was great to see them come out and finish off the season the way that we wanted to."
Prep finished 20-3-1 and reached the state finals for the first time in its history.
"I think it was a very productive year," Lyddy said. "We had a great winning season and we got to our ultimate goal, the state final. It was great, we just couldn't capitalize on it."
firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @DaveRuden.
Fairfield Citizen sports editor Pat Pickens contributed to this report
NORWALK 2, FAIRFIELD PREP 0
PREP 0 0 -- 0
NORWALK 1 1 -- 2
Records: Fairfield Prep 20-3-1; Norwalk 21-1-1
Goals: N--Andrew Melitsanopoulos, Nacho Navarro. Assists: N--Kevin Joslyn. Goalies: FP--Will Steiner (4 saves); N--Svet Kozak (6 saves). Shots: FP--10; N--10