Just five days removed from a gut-wrenching SCC tournament defeat, the Amity boys soccer team turned its hopes to the Class LL state tournament.
Thanks in part to Joseph Guerra, that dream lives on, at least for one more day.
The senior forward buried the game's only goal as No. 2 Amity held off the No. 31 seed Fairfield Warde, 1-0, in the Class LL tournament's first round on Saturday at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven.
"They were a lower seeded team, but we know they had a really hard record," Guerra said. "We knew what we had to do."
Spartans' junior goalkeeper Griffin Volta made eight saves -- including a stellar punch on James Baldwin's free kick with about two minutes to play, that cemented the victory.
"The punch was amazing," Amity coach Michael Marchitto said. "He was horizontal across that goal."
Amity's win helped it avoid a season-ending, two-game losing streak in tournament play -- the Spartans were thwarted in overtime by Branford in Monday's SCC semifinals.
"The SCC's was a big goal of ours," Marchitto said. "But that's soccer."
Amityadvaned in the second round with a 2-0 win over Simsbury. The Spartans' state quarterfinal match will be Wednesday against Greenwich at Amity at 2 p.m.
Warde goalkeeper Steven Bartlett made four saves. The Mustangs ended their season 6-9-2.
"I thought, based up on our performance today, our character was quite evident," Warde coach Justin Ottavio said. "This was a team effort."
Guerra's goal came in the 22nd minute. The senior took a pass from junior Justyn Broderick and beat Bartlett, putting the Spartans in front.
"The ball just kind of happened," Guerra said. "I just took it down and hit it by the keeper."
The Mustangs gained the better chances, especially in the second half. But the Spartans' senior-laden backs -- Jonathan Sutton, Ian O'Brien-Cannon, Austin Duffy and Sean Beaulieu -- kept Warde at bay.
"Those four backs ... work great as a team," Marchitto said. "We are here because of the way they have been playing."
"We had more urgency," Ottavio said. "They're a good team and they're defensively sound."
Volta also came up big, especially in the last seven minutes, stopping Ryan Gavey's shot from close-in, swallowing up the Warde senior's try.
"I don't know how he saw that ball," Marchitto said. "The way he is playing is spectacular."
Ottavio will graduate seven seniors.
"Our leadership and our character from our seniors has been great," Ottavio said. "We have 14 juniors and hopefully they know what it takes to be successful."
Class LL first round at West Haven
FAIRFIELD WARDE 0 0--0
AMITY 1 0--1
Records: Fairfield Warde 6-9-2; Amity 16-2-2. Goals: A--Joseph Guerra. Assists: A--Justyn Broderick. Goalies: FW--Steven Bartlett (4 saves); A--Griffin Volta (8). Shots: FW--17; A--13.