CLINTON — It only seemed fitting that 80 minutes of regulation couldn’t determine the 2019 Shoreline Conference champion Friday between longtime rivals Morgan and Old Saybrook.
This was the fifth straight year the Huskies were in the Shoreline final — and playing in the sixth postseason game in the last four seasons between these two rivals, most notably last year’s Class S state championship game, won by Old Saybrook.
So here these teams battled at the Indian River Complex through two overtime periods. Both scored once in the extra session. But that’s how it ended, 2-2, both teams sharing the league championship.
“We’ve never been co-champs. I know the kids don’t like it, but co-champs is better than losing,” Old Saybrook coach Sam Barnes said. “Co-champs, it’s not the ideal situation.”
Said Old Saybrook senior Colin Shulmeister: “To be honest, it doesn’t feel too good. I’d rather have one champion, but I’d rather also not lose, so I’m fine with the co-championship because both played well tonight.”
For the top-seeded Huskies (13-2-3), it’s their third straight title. Two years ago, they also shared it with Haddam-Killingworth.
“This one feels different just because against H-K, we felt like we scored three goals and only got one,” Morgan coach Ross Demay said. “It was back and forth, kind of a fitting way to end the run with Sam. … It’s always a battle and the fact that we had to overcome them every time to win a championship.”
For the third-seeded Rams (12-2-5), it’s the team’s first since 2015, and will be the last for Barnes, who is stepping down at season’s end after 26 years in charge with the Rams.
“I have three kids in college and I was offered a job that won’t allow me to coach,” Barnes said. “I may get back into it some day, but with the (new) job and kids in college, it was time to go.”
Morgan’s Zach Tuccitto was taken down in the box during the first overtime. He hit the penalty kick past Old Saybrook goalkeeper Matt Rothman to give the Huskies the 3-2 lead in the 83rd minute.
“They (Old Saybrook) played a fantastic game. I can’t take that away from them, they are a very good team,” Tuccitto said.
Then the Rams started to pressure Morgan’s defense, looking for the equalizer. That came 15 minutes later on a beautiful cross from Shon Ryan to Shulmeister, who blasted past Morgan goalkeeper Nick Rubino.
“I have been practicing that shot for I don’t know how long in practice and I just knew if I hit it right with enough power, I knew it was going in,” Shulmeister said.
There won’t be another postseason matchup this year. While Old Saybrook gets a chance to defend in Class S, Morgan has moved up to Class M.
The Rams did strike first 49 seconds into the second half. Cooper Luciani scored off of Gannon Efinger’s assist.
Morgan tied it when Tuccitto followed up his first shot, saved brilliantly by Rothman, and knocked it into the open net 10 minutes after Luciani’s goal.
“I think (Tuccitto) is deceivingly dangerous,” Barnes said. “You look at him and you don’t think he is that dangerous, until you saw what he did, blowing by three, four, five of us.”
Old Saybrook missed on a golden opportunity to break the scoreless tie in the first half when Ben O’Dell sailed a penalty kick over the crossbar.
Morgan and Old Saybrook have combined to win or share each of the last four Shoreline Conference championships and reach at least the finals in Class S the last three seasons.
“It’s a great rivalry. It reminds me of Barcelona and Real Madrid to be honest. Both are great teams and seeing them so often in the postseason shows how far both can make it. It’s kind of nice.”