SHELTON — The Fairfield Prep soccer team is aware its 2018 season will be judged on how it fares in the SCC and Class LL playoffs.
Thus far, at the season’s halfway mark, the Jesuits have done all that’s been asked of them. Last Saturday, the Jesuits upped its record to 8-0 following a 3-1 victory over Shelton at Finn Stadium.
“The kids have to buy into what we’re doing and obviously this year they are,” Jesuits coach Ryan Lyddy said.
Junior Jose Garcia-Mina led Prep with a pair of goals, but the Jesuits received contributions from all over the field. That balance, Lyddy said, is what’s helped the team get off to its perfect start.
“When you talk about a well-balanced team, it’s disciplined as well. The discipline we have is getting better every day,” he said.
Shelton, which opened its season with five straight wins, lost for the third consecutive game and saw its record fall to 5-3. Gaels coach Isaac Montalvo left the game impressed by the Jesuits balance across all areas of the field.
“For every single line, they’re good,” Montalvo said. “They know how to play. They have the philosophy of how they want to play.”
Garcia-Mina opened the scoring in the 12th minute, shooting from outside the box and over the overstretched fingertips of Shelton keeper Isaac Garcia.
Down a goal, Shelton upped the pressure and probed at the Jesuits goal through forwards Jonathan Dias and Alexander Coleman. The Gaels eventually broke through five minutes before halftime when Coleman’s deflected shot from outside the box looped over Jesuits’ keeper Ryan Cowles.
It took barely two minutes for Prep to regain its lead. Joseph DeVellis found himself in the right spot at the back post to fire home from close range, after the ball bounced around a sea of legs in front of the Shelton goal.
Mina’s second goal — set up by Luciano Paoletta — made it 3-1 three minutes into the second half.
“After we scored a goal, we started playing our style of play, we started passing the ball more, we penetrated. Defensively we made them drop a little more. … We talked about how we couldn’t concede right away. We had to keep playing,” Montalvo said. “The third one absolutely put the team down mentally.”
Fairfield Prep gets a break until Friday when it hosts Amity. Until then the Jesuits know other teams from around the SCC and state will be looking at them in the standings, eyeing an opportunity to hang the first loss on them.
“We can’t get complacent,” Fairfield Prep senior Ross Keblish said. “We can’t get too cocky. We have to think that every team can come out and beat us.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jose Garcia-Mina, Fairfield Prep — The junior midfielder opened the scoring for the Jesuits and later gave them a 3-1 lead with his second goal. Both goals came from outside the box.
Midway through the second half Prep’s Dominic Romano rocketed a left-footed volley from outside the penalty area. It looked destined for the net, but Gaels keeper Isaac Garcia made a full-extension aerial save to tip it over the crossbar.
“If we play our style and we play to our maximum capabilities I think we can go all the way, without a doubt.” — Fairfield Prep senior Ross Keblish on his team’s undefeated start.
FAIRFIELD PREP 3, SHELTON 1
FAIRFIELD PREP 2 1—3
SHELTON 1 0—1
Records: Fairfield Prep 8-0; Shelton 5-3
Goals: FP—Jose Garcia-Mina 2; Joseph DeVellis; S—Alexander Coleman; Assists: FP—Gavin Neumeyer, Luciano Paoletta; Goalies: FP—Ryan Cowles (4 saves); S—Isaac Garcia (6)