Testori scores twice as Hand shuts out Guilford in opener

The Surf Club in Madison sits empty at halftime of the Hand-Guilford boys soccer season opener Friday. No spectators were allowed in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MADISON — Rival boys soccer teams Guilford and Hand squaring off more than twice in a season is not uncommon. The teams met four times last season, twice in the postseason.

But Hand and Guilford playing in front of an empty Surf Club on a Friday night? Now that is definitely uncommon. But in the age of the Coronavirus, expect the unexpected.

Fans for both teams did watch from outside the stadium as Hand shut out Guilford 2-0 in the first of three regular-season matchups between these border rivals.

“Hand-Guilford, you always have so many fans here. It’s the most we ever get, so to see there being no fans, that was weird,” Hand senior forward and co-captain Scott Testori said. “But I’m glad people could pull up to the field outside the fence and support us from there.”

Said Guilford coach Curtis Gullette: “It’s hard to build that momentum. You rely on your fans more than you realize, especially in a rivalry game like this. We missed them tonight, we really did. I understand and I get no spectators, trying to keep everyone safe, but we did miss them.”

Limited or no fans at games and both players and coaches wearing masks on the sidelines have quickly become the norm with fall CIAC sports opening up on Thursday. But just returning to action in itself was quite the accomplishment after almost seven months of no high school sporting events being held in Connecticut.

“We were rusty, we weren’t very fluid, but it was nice for these guys. It was the first competitive game for any of them in six months,” Hand coach Greg Cumpstone said. “It was really nice to be out on the field.”

Teams are playing regular-season games only against the schools closest in proximity to prevent long-distance travel. Hence the three regular-season matchups.

Hand also plays Branford three times while Guilford faces Wilbur Cross three times.

Guilford did a good job Friday defending top-flight forwards Testori and Jason Wallack last year. In fact, Guilford allowed just three goals overall to Hand over the four games. But Guilford only returned Aidan Buchanan in the back this season.

Hand moved up co-captain Chris Porte, a defender last year, to the wing to provide a deadly scoring trio.

“In my opinion, they (Porte and Wallack) are two of the best wingers in the state,” Testori said. “We’ve all been playing together for awhile. We know each other very well.”

It’s hard to keep a player like Testori under wraps for long. The reigning State Player of the Year broke the scoreless tie when he took a quick cross from Wallack and deposited it into the net almost 25 minutes in.

“Honestly, besides a couple of really nice chances they had and the one mistake that led to the goal in the first half, we did a pretty good job of marking those three,” Gullette said.

Guilford managed to keep Hand at bay on its six corner kick attempts, four of them coming in the second half. But very few teams at any level could have prevented Testori’s second goal.

With 10:15 left in the contest, Testori ripped a line drive of approximately 35 yards into the back of the net.

“At that point, a really big moment to step up, to have the confidence to take the shot and the technique to score from that distance,” Cumpstone said.

Said Gullette: “That’s an all-world goal. I mean, c’mon, 35-40 yards on a frozen rope?”

These two teams get to do it again next Friday afternoon, this time at Kavanaugh Field in Guilford. No spectators will be allowed inside those gates.

Connecticut Media Group