Fitch boys' soccer remains unbeaten in ECC Div. II with 3-1 win over Ledyard

Ledyard — Fitch High School boys' soccer coach Jay Wolfradt used to be a member of the baseball coaching staff.

"In baseball, we expected to win the division every year," Wolfradt said.

But when you look around the Fitch gymnasium, there are no boys' soccer banners to be found, which could explain why the Falcons spent several moments giddily high-fiving each other following their 3-1 victory Tuesday over Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II competitor Ledyard.

"They're thrilled," said Wolfradt, whose team is 8-2 overall, 5-0 in the division following the win with three Division II games remaining. "We set out to win a division. We got a step closer. There's not a banner hanging at Fitch High school anywhere that celebrates anything soccer-wise."

"We've never done it," Fitch junior center midfielder Eric Leuchner said. "Best team in school history. The guys, any one of them can do anything. Our bench is amazing. Team chemistry, nothing better. It's going to be a fun bus ride home."

Leuchner scored the game's first goal with 7 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the first half on a direct kick from close to the right corner by sophomore Sebastian Duffy. The 5-foot-5 Leuchner leapt and headed the ball into the left corner of the goal.

Fitch made it 2-0 just 1:35 into the second half when Leuchner played the ball into the penalty area and Seamus Graves ran onto it for the goal.

Wes Hughes scored to pull Ledyard (7-2, 2-2) within 2-1 with 9:09 to play, but Duffy converted a penalty kick with 3:14 remaining to return Fitch's margin to two. Fitch outshot Ledyard 18-6 and had nine corner kicks to Ledyard's four.

Fitch goalie Ramiro Zavala needed two saves for the victory, while Ledyard goalie Blake McLeod finished with seven.

"They showed up to play. We didn't. There's no getting around it," Ledyard coach Bill Glenney said. "We weren't ready for prime time, as I told the kids afterward. They showed up. They wanted to win this. That's the first time we haven't scored three goals in a game (this year) and they almost shut us out.

"(Fitch has) 13 kids who just play really, really hard. They have a field full of kids that are going to run through a tree for you. We didn't even come close. ... It's a credit to their defenders."

Ledyard had won five straight games since a 5-3 loss to Fitch on Sept. 19, the only other loss this season for the Colonels, who were ranked fifth in the state this week in the Connecticut Soccer Coaches' Association Class M/S poll.

Ledyard tied for the Division II title last year with Bacon Academy and Woodstock Academy, while Fitch competed in Division I.

Glenney said the first meeting this season was more of a "back-and-forth" matchup, with Fitch scoring three goals off corner kicks. Leuchner said he had the feeling the rematch was going to be much tougher for the Falcons.

"A lot of heads went down (after Ledyard scored late)," Leuchner said. "But last time we played, we had to score five goals to beat them. We knew we needed more than two. ... This was it."

"They've got some studs over there," Wolfradt said of Ledyard. "We knew they were dangerous."

Wolfradt said in the past, the Falcons have had trouble keeping their pace for an entire 80 minutes. Fitch's losses this year are to Division I opponents Norwich Free Academy (4-2) and Stonington (3-2).

"I know it's coach talk, but you've got to teach them how to win every now and then," Wolfradt said. "Now they're starting to buy in. They understand how to be a unit. They're a great group. ... Our guys stepped up."

v.fulkerson@theday.com     

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