NEPSAC champs

Tilton School claims second New England title with 3-1 win

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

The Tilton School boys' soccer team captured the NESPAC Class C championship on Sunday in Windsor, Conn. with a 3-1 victory over Beaver Country Day School of Brookline, Mass. It was the second New England title in program history. Mark Bogacz - Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
November 17, 2014
WINDSOR, Conn. All three of the Tilton School boys' soccer team's postseason games were decided by one goal. To capture a championship, the Rams thrived in crunch time.

Tilton scored two goals in the first half and held on for its biggest win of the season on Sunday. The top-seeded Rams claimed the NEPSAC Class C championship with a 3-1 win over Beaver Country Day School of Brookline, Mass. in chilly conditions on the campus of the Loomis Chaffee School. It was the second New England title in school history.

Junior Guillaume Poisson flicked a free kick from Dikran Arshagouni over the outstretched arms of the BCDS goalie in the third minute for a quick 1-0 lead. While the Rams would ultimately give up that lead, Arshagouni reestablished it when his 32nd minute corner kick found the head of Jason Bogacz and he beat the keeper for a 2-1 lead.

That advantage held until the second half, and Tilton managed to put the game away late when Tommy Wendt sealed the deal with a header goal to account for the 3-1 victory.

The win was the second in two days for the Rams (15-3-3 final record), which beat fourth-seeded Wheeler School of Providence, R.I., 1-0, at the Major Charles E. Tilton Memorial Field on Saturday in the NEPSAC semifinals.

Here's a breakdown of Tilton's 1-0 win in the quarterfinals earlier in the week to open up the playoffs.

NORTHFIELD The grounds were plush, with green grass looking pristine despite a mid-November game. Action took place on side by side pitches; undoubtedly a big portion of the school population was in attendance. A student even wore a banana costume, and his voice echoed alongside his peers as they chanted through vuvuzelas and megaphones.

The playoffs provided the perfect platform for the Tilton School boys' soccer team to shine, and the large crowd assembled along the sidelines did their part. After a scoreless first half, Tilton did its part as well.

Midfielder Danny Nkhalamba struck for the game's only goal of the afternoon, a beautiful free kick in the 74th minute that made for a Rams clean sweep on Nov. 12. Just minutes after the girls' soccer team got a win, the top-seeded boys' side followed with an identical 1-0 victory over pesky eighth-seeded Hebron Academy in the NEPSAC Class C quarterfinal at Major Charles E. Tilton Memorial Field.

Tilton threatened for most of the first half but weren't able to cash in for a goal. The dangerous trio of Jason Bogacz (Concord), Tyler Hatch (Concord) and Guillaume Poisson (Quebec) put chances on the Hebron net but the Lumberjacks held strong along the back line.

The Tilton defense, led by the crafty work of junior Alex McGraw (St. Stephen, New Brunswick), limited Hebron's offensive chances, though senior goalkeeper Nathan Terry (Reading, Mass.) also came up big on several occasions, including a sliding save on a skipping cross just before intermission that snagged the ball in front of an open Lumberjack on the back post.

With regulation winding down and overtime seemingly inevitable, the Rams finally stuck through for the game-winner. In the 74th minute, a Hebron foul in its own end gave Tilton a free kick in threatening territory. Nkhalamba set the ball quickly, and his free kick from distance bent over the goalkeeper's head and into the far side of the net to put the hosts on top 1-0.

Terry and the Tilton defense finished the deal from there, and the whistle had the Rams also through to the semifinals just minutes after the girls' punched their ticket.

The win sent Tilton to the Class C semis and a meeting with Wheeler School of Rhode Island on Saturday.

Tilton's roster featured Lakes Region players Thomas Cavanaugh (Tilton), Nic Ferre (Laconia), David Guyotte (Gilford), Ryan Waring (Gilmanton Iron Works) and Trevor Frederick (Tilton).

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