Thursday, September 11, 2008


The match between Farmington and Glastonbury featured perhaps the most crisp high school soccer I've ever seen. Unfortunately, the big crowd that rolled into Tunxis Mead and parked it at Al Bell Field did not get to see it come to a conclusion.

With 12:35 remaining in a 1-1 battle, a power surge put out half the lights that so brilliantly illuminate one of the best soccer fields in the state. The lights gradually came back, but with the 8 p.m. start, the hour at 10 and the scoreboard out of commission, the contest was suspended until today at 5:30.

Nevertheless, the play exhibited the kind of electricity that no surge could extinguish.

Farmington scored first on a little free-kick trickery when Alex Ayer leaped over the ball and Spencer Noon hit it perfectly from 25 yards out to beat Adam LaPlaca, surely among the state's best goalkeepers, to the left corner.

Glastonbury countered with just 10 seconds remaining in the first half. When I tell you Glastonbury forward Giuseppe Panajia is fast, that four-letter word doesn't convey the picture. He gets his feet moving so quickly that it resembles the circular buzzsaw that the roadrunner displays on that famous old cartoon when Wile E. Coyote gets a little too close.

Panajia, who scored the tying goal on a through-ball from Trevor Constantine, mixed a heap of determination into his runs as the top-ranked Tomahawks tried to draw even over the chorus of "Over-rated" from FHS students. I admire the kids' school spirit but I wouldn't say Glastonbury is overrated.

Panajia, by the way, was the lad who ended Farmington's tournament run prematurely last year when he scored in the second overtime to give his side a 1-0 win at the Mead.

Nor would I say Farmington is. The Indians are ranked fifth, and they were very impressive, too. With Noon's talents very well-documented in The Herald, among others who caught my eye were Ayer, sophomore Kevin Michalak and active goalkeeper Josh Kulak. I thought Farmington coach Steve Waters had his boys in midseason form.

Getting back to the power problem, it was disturbing that the teams had to go through this suspension. The Glastonbury people voiced their irritation with the facility, which was probably stated out of big-game tension. I also heard a game administrator mention that the lights had not been tested prior to the game.

The lights came on during the girls game, which started at about 6 p.m. they had been on for about two hours when the scene dimmed. Perhaps if they were tested beforehand the problem could have been avoided. With well over 1,000 in attendance, it was a "brown-eye" that the town didn't need.

But kilowatts aside, it was a marvelous match to begin Farmington's transition into the more competitive world of the Central Connecticut Conference. And while Waters' Indians may not run off their usual 16-2 or 17-1 this year, they will certainly be more prepared for the rigorous Class LL tournament, the only level at which Waters hasn't won in his illustrious quarter-century guiding the team.

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