Fairfield Prep defeats Branford 1-0 to claim second straight SCC boys soccer title
Updated 1:38 pm, Thursday, November 8, 2012
WEST HAVEN -- There were other stars who shined brighter than Kieran Bracken for the Fairfield Prep boys soccer team during the regular season.
Yet, when tournament time came, the senior forward became mighty big.
Bracken scored his second goal of the conference tournament and the SCC final's lone goal as the top-seeded Jesuits won their second straight conference crown 1-0 over No. 3 Branford on Tuesday at Ken Strong Stadium.
"I thought we played great," Prep coach Ryan Lyddy said. "We told these guys ... `We need to find a way to win' ... we saw it again."
Jesuits goalkeeper Will Steiner stopped two shots and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Steiner also led Prep to a championship in 2011.
"I'm just really happy," he said. "We set the goal in the beginning of the year and I think we've done a great job staying focused on our goals."
Branford's Jared Keck made eight saves. The Hornets will now turn their attention to the Class L state tournament -- where they will be forced to play their first contest without midfielder John Ainson. Ainson was given a red card in the 52nd minute, forcing the Hornets to play the final 28 minutes a man down.
"The effort tonight was absolutely fabulous," Branford coach Paul Hunter said. "It was a very difficult situation ... but I thought the kids performed great."
Branford had a goal disallowed when officials ruled senior Jaryd Hobbs fouled a Prep defender. But the Hornets' best chances came in the final minute. Branford sophomore Max Condon's shot barely sailed over the crossbar.
"They did a great job of playing balls over our defense," Steiner said.
Steiner also punched a Hornet attacker's cross in the waning seconds, preserving Prep's victory.
"We almost got a goal or two at the end," Hunter said.
Bracken scored the game's lone goal in the 30th minute. Stephen Tortora's cross was fielded and bobbled by a Hornets defender and Bracken took the loose ball and potted the change, putting the Jesuits on the board.
"He's been working hard," Lyddy said. "He wasn't a starter for a while ... he proved it was worth the decision we made."
For Bracken, who did not see the field much during the regular season, finishing when it counted was sweet.
"I turned it on," Bracken said. "I sat out a few games in the regular season, but I tried to turn it on during playoff time."
The Hornets earned the game's first chance when, in the first 25 seconds, sophomore forward Aaron Radulski walked in on goal and blasted a shot wide.
"I wasn't expecting it to come that quickly," Steiner said. "It got me into the game fast."
SCC boys soccer final
BRANFORD 0 0-- 0
FAIRFIELD PREP 1 0-- 1
Records: B 12-3-4; FP 16-2-1; Goals: FP-Kieran Bracken; Goalies: FP-Will Steiner (2 saves); B-Jared Keck (8 saves); Shots: B- 5; FP-15.