Old Saybrook shuts out East Hampton, claims 4th straight Class S boys soccer state title

Photo of Joe Morelli

HARTFORD — If you are playing in a CIAC soccer championship game in the third weekend of November, adjusting to the elements is a key factor in bringing home the state championship hardware.

Not only was the turf slippery at Trinity Health Stadium, there was also a strong wind blowing in one direction as well. Shoreline Conference boys soccer rivals Old Saybrook and East Hampton had to adjust and try to make good on scoring opportunities.

Old Saybrook, the No. 5 seed, was able to succeed behind a great effort from first-year goalkeeper London Sweeney. The Rams won 2-0 over No. 3 East Hampton to claim their fourth consecutive Class S state championship.

“My family and friends asking me if I was nervous, Honestly, no,” Sweeney said. “I was so ready to win this game.”

It was the 11th CIAC state championship for Old Saybrook coach Steve Waters, his second with the program. The previous nine came at Farmington.

Waters said it was his 100th CIAC tournament win. The all-time leader in victories, Waters won his 600th game in the quarterfinal round against Litchfield.

“I’m extremely happy for the players, they are the ones who have to run out there, I just have to think sometimes,” Waters said. “The turf was not great to play on it at first. It seemed like there was an icy layer underneath. … One of the things (we said), is, ‘Good teams react, great teams adjust. You have an opportunity to be a great team today.’”

Players did have a tough time keeping their footing. East Hampton (16-2-1), the Shoreline champion, had the wind advantage in the first half. The Bellringers had 13 shot attempts and seven corner kicks.

But a lot of those attempts sailed over the net with the wind. Old Saybrook (18-2-2) had the only goal of the first half: from co-captain Kevin DeCapua in the 18th minute.

“We had multiple opportunities in both halves to be able to finish. We couldn’t even stay on our feet,” East Hampton coach Rocco Christiana said. “I’m not blaming it on the field. They won, congratulations to them, but we shouldn’t be playing on a field like this for a final game. Absolutely ridiculous.”

The Bellringers had less opportunities in the second half going into that strong wind. Both teams had a half-dozen shot attempts and combined for five corner kicks. East Hampton goalkeeper Thomas Fenton had a solid effort in net.

But Sweeney was just a bit better. He made a pair of diving saves over the final 12 minutes to keep East Hampton off the scoreboard. He finished with seven saves overall.

“It’s probably the hardest position, One-on-ones is probably the hardest thing,” Sweeney said. “They didn't get any of those, except one or two, and I was able to get to them because of how slick this turf is. I knew that, I don’t know if they did, but I knew I had to adjust to that and keep that in my head.”

Sweeney played goalie through his middle school years, but gave it up to focus on basketball. He said his friends helped convince him to come out and play this season.

Sunday’s final was Sweeney’s 13th shutout of the season.

“He didn’t make a mistake, he didn’t bobble a ball. He was spot on,” Waters said. “I have to tell you, he was a lot of fun on the team. He fit right in.”
Two more of Old Saybrook’s co-captains combined on the final goal with 69 seconds left: Cam DeAngelo from Bradley Kulmann.

East Hampton was seeking its first state championship since sharing the crown with Somers in 2014.

“We had a really successful season, I can’t complain. We made it to the show, we did the best we could with the conditions that we had and we’re very proud of what we did,” Christiana said.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

London Sweeney, Old Saybrook: Junior collected seven saves and his 13th shutout of the season.

QUOTABLE

“It’s surreal. I’m not sure how to put it into words.” -- Old Saybrook goalkeeper London Sweeney

joseph.morelli@hearstmediact.com; @nhrJoeMorelli

OLD SAYBROOK 2, EAST HAMPTON 0

Old Saybrook 1 1 - 2

East Hampton 0 0 - 0

Scoring: OS: Kevin DeCapua (Brayden Cody), 18:42; Cam DeAngelo (Bradley Kylmann), 78:51. Shots: OS 10; EH 19. Saves: OS: London Sweeney 7; EH: Thomas Fenton 4. Records: OS 18-2-2; EH: 16-2-1.