No. 6 Pomperaug wins SWC boys soccer title over Newtown

BROOKFIELD —After a tumultuous season riddled with key injuries and a second half lull, the Pomperaug boys soccer team had unwavering confidence as it entered the SWC tournament as the No. 6 seed. 

The Panthers ended the regular season with a loss to Newtown, wrapping up the final four games with one win, a tie and two losses. On Thursday night, Pomperaug would get its revenge when it counted. 

Top-seeded Newtown had only lost once all year, but Pomperaug rode the momentum of a double overtime victory in the quarterfinals and a semifinal win in penalties to a 1-0 win over Newtown, culminating a championship run that included beating the top three seeds. 

"It is always nice to win an SWC, I think it may be sometimes harder than states because our conference is so tough," Pomperaug coach Joseph Mancini said. "It is always an honor to play somebody like Newtown, they were number one all year. We lost to them 2-0 in the regular season, so it is a nice revenge game for us. Looking at the bracket was a little scary but, you know, we had some injuries mid-season so we were starting to get healthy. Our stretch was a little shaky, but hopefully we are going to be ready to go for states too."

While the championship game did not require double overtime like Pomperaug's first round win over No. 3 Joel Barlow, or the PKs against No. 2 Brookfield, it was senior striker Nolan Keane who played the familiar hero with his team's lone goal early in the second half. 

"It came off a deflection and I heard people screaming, but I just ignored them," Keane said. "As a striker sometimes you have to be selfish, so I just took it across and laid it bottom right corner. I just knew I could score."

Keane was named the tournament MVP after he also scored the game-winning, double overtime goal against Barlow. 

"He is just a workhorse, he works his butt off," Mancini said. "You see that every time we play the ball that he is on the end of it. Sometimes we don't get the result we want with it, but he is always putting pressure on their backs and keeps them honest back there. As soon as he puts that kind of pressure, it opens up midfield for us and we can start finding some spaces."

Pomperaug's David vs. Goliath path to its first SWC title since 2019 may have come as a shock to the opponents it toppled, but it was hardly a surprise to those donning the red and white. 

"We just knew we were better," Keane said. "We beat Barlow in the regular season, and all of these games were so close with these top teams. We knew we could beat them. We were so confident coming in and after beating the third seed in double overtime, it just pushed us. Then Weston in PKs pushed us even further. Now we are here, against the No. 1 seed, and we beat them in normal time. Best feeling ever."

Newtown made its first SWC championship appearance since 2013 but will have to wait for its first title since 2004. The Nighthawks will look to rebound from their second loss of the season in the state tournament. 

"It has been great, it was our goal to win the division, win the league, be number one and get to the finals. We did that, we just didn't take home the hardware," Newtown coach Kyle Luddy said. "It has been a good three years here for us. They really built their mindsets and dedication to each other and now we were in the finals. I think that is something special. I mean, these guys have only lost five games in three years so that is pretty damn good."

POMPERAUG 1, NEWTOWN 0

(at Brookfield)

Scoring: P- Nolan Keane, 37:33 2H.

Shots: Pom 9; New 7. Saves: P-Graylen Wilson 6; N- 3. Records: Pomp 13-3-4; N 12-2-4.