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Zemo, Nighthawk Booters (Hat) Trick Panthers In Shutout Victory



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Led by a first-half hat-trick off the foot of Justin Zemo and shutdown defense and goalkeeping, Newtown High School’s boys’ soccer team blanked visiting Masuk of Monroe 3-0 in a battle of teams jockeying for conference playoff positioning, at Blue & Gold Stadium on October 19.

The Nighthawks improved to 7-4-2 overall and tied Masuk (9-3-2 overall) and Brookfield for fourth place in the South-West Conference standings (6-3-2) with just two games to play.

“Obviously, their record speaks volumes so it’s a good win — absolutely,” Newtown Coach Ryan Lyddy said. “We’re playing with some pace, some pride, and some patience, which is nice.”

Zemo did not wait long to put the Nighthawks in the lead. He scored twice in a span of 1:39 less than 15 minutes into the game and converted a penalty kick with 1:10 remaining in the half. Benen Blessey assisted the first goal and the second was unassisted.

“It feels nice. It’s a good team experience,” said Zemo, who was simply too quick for the Panthers to contain him.

“The kid’s speed is unbelievable. We’ve been working on some finishing stuff and it worked tonight,” Lyddy added.

Newtown’s defense was led by John Moxham, Connor Dullinger, Blessey, Hunter Baillargeon, Mark Sadowski, Matthew Irving, and Kyle Ruddy. The Hawks held the Panthers scoreless for just the second time this season.

Starting goalkeeper Yarema Stasyshyn, a sophomore, exited in the first half due to injury and senior Michael Connors stepped in and made a couple big saves to help preserve Newtown’s fifth shutout win of the season. It also continued a string of consecutive games in which the Hawks have not conceded a goal, extending that feat to six tilts, including a scoreless tie at Bethel (9-1-3 overall, 7-1-3 in the SWC) on October 14.

Lyddy pointed out that Connors has been in a tough spot as a senior with a sophomore earning the starting role, but has handled the situation very well.

“It’s a perfect example of a good teammate that makes everyone better around him. He has an opportunity to shine and he shines,” the coach added.

The Nighthawks, after visiting Notre Dame-Fairfield (1-10 in conference play) on Friday, October 22, close out the regular slate at Pomperaug of Southbury (2-5-3) on Monday, October 25, at 7 pm. Weston (10-0-1), Joel Barlow of Redding (9-1-1), and Bethel sit atop the SWC standings.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Justin Zemo, second from left, celebrates his third goal in a 3-0 win over Masuk on October 19 with, from left: Luke Kellerman, John Moxham, and Connor Dullinger. —Tricia Ruddy photo
Justin Zemo makes a move on a Masuk defender.—Bee Photos, Hutchison
Alexander Braholli makes a move up the sideline as Connor Muir (No. 15) joins the play.
Connor Dullinger clears the ball out of the back as goalkeeper Michael Connors looks on.
Calvin Lucas splits the Masuk defense. Lucas and the Nighthawks held the opposition scoreless for the sixth straight game.
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