By Tom Cleary

tcleary@bcnnew.com

The fifth-seeded Staples Wreckers boys soccer team needed overtime to defeat 12th-seeded Guilford on Thursday afternoon at Albie Loeffler Field in Westport. A goal by senior Greg Gudis put Staples up 2-1 midway through the first overtime period and the Wreckers held on to advance into the next round of the Class LL State Tournament.

The Wreckers (18-2-1) will 13th-seeded Simsbury (10-2-4) on Monday at 2 p.m. Guilford finished the season with a 11-3-4 record.

"Guilford has given us good games for years," said Staples head coach Dan Woog. "They really came to play. I don't think we played particularly smart. Guilford did to us what we do to a lot of team's and we didn't like to see it. It did take us awhile to figure it out."

Woog added, "We had them under the gun in the first five and sort of let them back in. And it was a typical LL state tournament game. That is what these games are like."

The first half was scoreless. Gudis missed a penalty shot mid-way through the half for the Wreckers.

Staples first score came on an own-goal by the Indians with 15:58 remaining in the second half. Guilford responded just over four minutes later when Indians' senior forward James Carroll knocked in an unassisted tally to even the score at 1-1.

Both teams could not convert on chances late in the second half, sending the game into the 20-minute overtime session.

During overtime, senior Mikey Scott sent a long throw to Gudis, who was open in front of the net and knocked the ball past Guilford's goalkeeper Tom Barcewicz (seven saves).

The goal came with 3:03 to play in the first overtime.

Woog said Scott's throwing ability is a "weapon that is hard to defend against."

"How can you train against it if you don't have somebody who can do that?," Woog asked rhetorically. "We try to take advantage of it and we have at a few key times this year."

Gudis said "I was just in the right place at the right time, but a goal is a goal and I took advantage."

After missing the earlier penalty shot, which he said was the first miss he has ever had on a penalty, Gudis said he was glad his team pulled through. "I'm usually ice," he said. "But I'm glad my team stayed confident in me."

He also praised Scott. "He probably has the most dangerous cannon in the FCIAC, the state, any team I've ever played in all my experience. It's a tremendous advantage."

Gudis said he has a "connection," with Scott developed over the years they have played together. "Mike knew where I was going to be," he said. "That is what happens when you play together for four years. Not to mention since we were 9 or 10."

Gudis later left the game with an injured lower leg, but he said he thinks it is just a deep bruise.

Guilford had a few scoring opportunities in the second 10-minute overtime period, but could not get a clean shot off on Staples' goalkeeper James Hickok (six saves).

Staples also had chances to put away the game, but Steven Smith missed an opportunity to convert on a breakaway halfway through the second overtime. But it was not necessary, as Staples defense came up strong.

The Wreckers finished the game with 13 shots.

Staples senior captain Brendan Lesch said he thinks the win will add to his team's confidence.

"It shows our team that we can win pretty and we can dominate, but we can also win when it is a close game, overtime game, coming from behind, whatever," he said. "We are confident that we can come through."

The Wreckers, who are the defending Class LL champions, next game will be played on Saturday at a time to be determined. If Simsbury wins, the game will be in Westport. If Norwalk wins, it will be at Norwalk.

"We are going to have some good teams coming up," Lesch said. "But if we play like I know we can, I think we can do it."