Stamford secures long-awaited spot in state semis
The 2012 Stamford boys soccer squad is going where no team has gone before.
At least not in Mario Caminiti's 30-plus years of coaching the Black Knights.
Senior Lucas Laria scored in the sixth minute, and classmate Christian Echeverri added a pair of second-half goals as Stamford advanced to the state semifinals for the first time under Caminiti with a 3-0 shutout of No. 29 seed Newington in a lopsided CIAC Class LL quarterfinal match Tuesday afternoon.
Next up for the No. 12 seed Black Knights (14-4-2) is the top-seed Norwalk -- which rallied past Newtown 2-1 -- on either Friday or Saturday as a site to be determined.
Unlike in their 2-1 victory via penalty kicks over No. 5 seed Ridgefield in the second round, this quarterfinal round contest -- the Black Knight first in 15 years -- lacked any real suspense.
That's just how dominant Stamford was on this chilly afternoon.
"Physically we're already there and today we were mentally ready," Caminiti said. "Our midfield and forward connected very well, and our leaders on defense are strong and fast. This was one of our most complete games of the year. The crowd was into it too, this feels good and I'm happy for these guys."
Laria set the tone when he stole a clear in the Indians' end, and buried a high shot into the corner of the net.
Stamford would keep the pressure on Newington (9-9-1) throughout the 80-minute match.
The ball was almost always on the Indians' side of the field, and the visitors would get back on their bus the same way they arrived -- without a shot on goal.
Echeverri gave the Black Knights some insurance in the 44th minute when the ball deflected to him near the Newington goal, before he spun around and finished. In the 55th minute, Echeverri was in perfect position for a rebound after a header by Steven Lopez bounced off the crossbar.
"We played very well," Echeverri said. "Now we hope to go even further in states."
Stamford's defense was spearheaded by junior Marc Guirand and senior Kyle Carey, who for one, was hoping to see his team get another crack at FCIAC rival Norwalk.
"They beat us this year and kept us out of states last year so we'd like to get some payback," Carey said. "Our pieces were still fitting together early this season, but now we're playing more like a well-oiled machine."
In the other half of the Class LL bracket, third-seeded Fairfield Prep slipped past Conard, 2-1, in double-overtime. The Jesuits will play Wednesday's quarterfinal winner between No. 2 Amity and No. 7 Greenwich.