MADISON — We are no closer to finding much difference, if any between the Guilford and Hand boys soccer teams than we were before the start of the season.
Tuesday afternoon’s game at the Surf Club between the two border rivals resulted in a scoreless tie. The two teams tied 2-2 back in the season opener.
“I think today was mostly a game of adjustments by both teams,” Guilford coach Curtis Gullette said. “We know what they (Hand) bring offensively, and we adjusted for that. It worked to some extent.”
Both teams still have just one loss: Guilford stands at 6-1-2, Hand at 5-1-3. Both are almost side-by-side near the middle of the Class L state rankings and among several teams contending for the Southern Connecticut Conference title.
“It’s going to come down to who can build momentum going into those final weeks,” Hand coach Greg Cumpstone said.
Said Gullette: “We are one bad back pass from tying Cheshire. It’s miniscule (between the top teams). Any given day. There’s not one team on top. There are literally four or five teams tied at the top.”
The Tigers put together seven shots in the second half, 13 overall, some of them of high quality. But senior co-captain John Kosh was up to the task in net for Guilford, making seven saves.
Among Kosh’s five saves in the second half came on consecutive shots from Scott Testori and Daven Pelaez.
“Scott’s shot was one of my betters saves in the game,” Kosh said. “I think we are two great competitors and two of the better competitors in the state as well. Our defense is very strong, their offense is very strong.”
Said Gullette: “He had some huge saves. He had a couple where he came out, jumped about 10 feet in the air and grabbed the ball, all improvements for him.”
In its last three games, Hand has scored just one goal.
“We got shut out by Cheshire, we got shut out today by Guilford and we only scored one goal against Shelton,” Cumpstone said. “It’s a little bit frustrating because we are creating enough chances to be able to get a goal just not finding that break through. … It’s definitely concerning we have dropped points in three consecutive games.
“We wanted to have a better defensive performance than against Shelton (three goals in 25 mintes). We took back the box today. We created less chances today than against Shelton, but we created enough to knock one into the back of the net. We have to keep working on ways to create chances, ways to space the field out a little better to be a little more open when attacking.”
In the game’s final minute, Anthony Ippolito got off Guilford’s best shot of the second half that Hand keeper Tim Perez was able to deflect away.
The play also got chippy between the rivals. Two yellow cards were issued to each team.
“I think it’s just the rivalry. Things gets heated a little bit,” Gullette said. “We do our best to calm that a little bit. We play much better when we are calm.”
Said Cumpstone: “Neither team went over the top with the chippiness.”
In the season opener, Guilford was issued a red card — and managed to score twice despite being a man down for most of the second half.
Both teams had quality scoring opportunities in the first half on Tuesday, both taking six shots.
The game was originally scheduled to be played Monday night following the girls, but was moved to Tuesday afternoon due to the ongoing EEE virus in the state.