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NHS Nighthawks Boot New Milford, Lose To Bunnell - Now Focus On States



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NHS Nighthawks Boot New Milford, Lose To Bunnell — Now Focus On States

By Andy Hutchison

Newtown High School’s boys’ soccer team had one thrilling win and one heart-breaking loss in a pair of close South-West Conference Tournament games.

The Nighthawks overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit, with three unanswered goals, to knock off visiting New Milford 3-2 in the quarterfinal round of the tourney at Treadwell Park on October 29.

The No. 4 Nighthawks got two goals from Ryan Dunnigan and one off the foot of Andre Capozziello to edge No. 5 New Milford, which had played the Hawks to a scoreless tie in the regular season meeting on October 21.

Against top-seeded Bunnell of Stratford in the semifinals at Brookfield High on November 2, the Nighthawks nearly pulled off an upset before falling 2-1 in overtime. Newtown’s Greg Campbell scored in regulation but it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs prevailed in extra time. Bunnell was unbeaten in the regular campaign, during which the Bulldogs blanked the Hawks 2-0.

Newtown will wait for the start of state tournament play in the second week of November; Bunnell advanced to face Pomperaug of Southbury in the SWC title game.

In Newtown’s first round win, both of Dunnigan’s goals came on long shots from outside the 18-yard box, the second coming from 30-plus yards out and sailing high into the goal for a 2-1 NHS lead. Capozziello’s net-finder also came on a lob from beyond the 18, making it 3-1 late in the second half. New Milford climbed back to within a goal with about ten minutes to play, but the Nighthawks held off their counterparts.

Dunnigan said the first half against New Milford was the worst half the Nighthawks have played this season. After Coach Brian Neumeyer talked to the team members about controlling the ball better in the second half, things turned around.

“I think the guys took that to heart,” said Dunnigan, adding, “Everything was clicking in the second half.”

“I think really we just needed to keep the ball a little better and we did that in the first five minutes of the second half, and that set the tone for the whole second half,” Neumeyer said.

Newtown came into the season as an overall young, unproven team which was revamping following the loss of eight starters/regulars from last fall.

“I think a lot of people didn’t look at us as a team that would be geared for any type of success. And what we did was just kind of stay focused and patient and just continuing to grow,” said Neumeyer, adding that the Nighthawks will look to carry that mindset through the playoffs.

Newtown captain Josh Engler said the Hawks, the seniors especially, are aiming for a championship. Newtown will try to build off the win over New Milford, along with the strong effort in the tough-to-swallow defeat to Bunnell, as the Hawks go for a state crown.

“This is our last hurrah. We want to get this done,” Engler said.

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