Scoreless through the first half against unbeaten Taft in the NEPSAC Class A final, the Milton Academy boys’ soccer team struck twice in a five-minute span of the second half for a 2-0 victory at Suffield Academy Sunday afternoon.
It is the fourth New England prep title for the Mustangs (19-1-2), but first since 2015. Milton lost, 3-2, on penalty kicks to Worcester Academy in the 2022 final.
After a scoreless first half, junior Alejandro Palacio found classmate Alfred Debah for the opening tally. Five minutes later, Debah connected with junior Silas Lawrence to double the lead and secure the championship.
“Taft came in as the higher-seeded team and undefeated coming in, and the first half showed a lot of good play from both teams, and both teams had some good, dangerous opportunities,” said Mustangs coach Chris Kane said. “In the second half we were able to get a little bit more pressure and we were able to break through.”
The Mustangs’ defense and junior goalie Davis Kahn allowed just one goal across three postseason games.
“We knew we had the potential to be [in the finals], but we did graduate a significant number of kids who took us to the finals last year,” Kane said. “As we started the year that was a goal, but certainly one we had to work toward. And coming into the tournament, we certainly felt we had a great chance to win it if we played to our potential. Certainly the guys did a great job of doing that.”
NEPSAC Class B
Kimball Union 3, Nobles 2 — The Bulldogs (14-3-2) tried to pull off a valiant rally, down 3-0 at halftime to the Wildcats at Suffield Academy. With eight minutes to go, senior Ali Coleman converted a penalty kick to give Nobles life. Shortly after, senior Alex St. John scored to cut the deficit to one. But that’s where the rally ended, with KU taking the title.
“It was pretty back and forth,” Nobles coach Steve Ginsberg said. “They just did a really good job finishing their opportunities, and we were a little unlucky and didn’t finish ours.”
Senior goalkeeper Caden O’Neil proved crucial to keeping a win in reach, making several late saves for the Bulldogs, and senior Antonio Cosentino played strong in the middle.
“[We were] certainly hoping to win, but they were a very good team,” Ginsberg said. “And we played them earlier in the year and won 2-1, so we knew we were pretty evenly matched. So definitely not what I had hoped, but really proud of how my kids played all year.”
NEPSAC Class A
Westminster 1, Thayer 0 — The Tigers hung tough thanks to goalkeeper Maddie Parrott, who made several difficult saves, but a first-half goal by host Westminster off a corner kick won the championship in Simsbury, Conn.
“We battled so very hard. I know the team gave everything they had to get the goal back and win the game,” Thayer coach Nick Rugnetta said. “I am so very proud of our team for their effort, their commitment, and their heart — not just today but all season long.”
NEPSAC Class A
Taft 3, Phillips Andover 2 — Goals just 90 seconds apart in the third quarter, by junior Peyton Kennedy and senior captain Shea Freda, turned a one-goal halftime deficit into a one-goal lead for the Big Blue (17-2). But Taft immediately replied with two goals before the end of the third, then kept PA in check in the final quarter to capture the championship.
“Taft is a really strong team, so it was one-nothing at halftime, then we were able to score those two quick goals,” PA coach Kate Dolan said. “But unfortunately then, true to their nature, they are equally explosive, so they scored two more to close out the third quarter.”
In the Big Blue net, sophomore Josie Sarno had a strong game, and the team’s two seniors, Freda and midfielder Ava Murphy, were crucial to the lineup throughout the season, according to Dolan.
NEPSAC Class B
King (Conn.) 3, Rivers 0 — First-year Rivers coach Maddy Smith remained upbeat after her team’s 25-9, 29-27, 25-21 loss in the championship game at Milton Academy. After all, it was still a historical season for the Red Wings, who were playing in their first final against a juggernaut Vikings program that secured its eighth straight title..
“If it’s one thing my girls are, we’re resilient,” Smith said. “After that first set, we had to come together and remember the details of the game. We were so, so close and almost got ‘em.”
The Red Wings (16-3) had the Vikings (21-1) on the ropes in the second set, holding leads at 25-24, 26-25 and 27-26 before ceding the final three to King.
The Vikings, coached by former Sacred Heart University star Kat Wells, racked up 14 aces in the match, including seven from freshman setter Mavi Triantafyllos. Junior Caroline Ellis, an Ole Miss recruit, had 12 kills for King.
Earlier in the day on the same court, Heritage Christian (Conn.) won its third straight Class D title in straight sets over Faith Christian (N.Y.), 25-14, 25-7, 25-14.
Jake Levin reported from Milton Academy. Vishakha Deshpande also contributed.