Tucker Jean and the Colchester High School boys soccer team have fallen in the Division I quarterfinals in each of the past three seasons, including last year’s crushing home loss to Essex.
The Hornets returned Friday afternoon looking to add to the Lakers’ recent postseason misery.
“Last year I remember them celebrating with their crowd on our field,” said Jean, a four-year varsity player. “Similar record, similar setup — that was definitely on our minds I’ll say, but I think this year we know what we are about.
“There were no doubts going into it.”
And it showed on the pitch.
Jean and Matt Goudie tucked away second-half goals, sending the No. 2-seeded Lakers to their first D-I semifinal in a decade with a 2-0 victory over 10th-seeded Essex.
Jean headed in a chance that began on a corner kick midway through the second half and Goudie put an exclamation point on the win, burying a close-range shot with 12:51 to play as Colchester advanced to Tuesday’s Division I semifinals.
The Lakers (13-2-1) will play host to the winner of today’s quarterfinal between No. 10 BFA-St. Albans and No. 3 Hartford.
“I’ve never been part of a win with this team that felt so good,” Jean said. “The whole season this has been our goal, to make it past the quarterfinals. It felt great to beat Essex. … We had a little revenge on our minds for the seniors who graduated.”
Following an evenly matched first half, the Lakers began to push into the offensive third after halftime. Their patient style yielded a corner kick near the midpoint of the half. Brett Nelson’s service was flicked at the top of the 18 toward goal, where Jean rose and headed it past Essex freshman goalie Ben Wood.
Nelson also set up Goudie’s insurance tally. Nelson sent a ball down the left flank, Goudie collected, shrugged off an Essex defender and made a run toward net.
Goudie finished with authority on a right-footed blast inside the left post for his team-leading 18th goal of the season. The goal capped an uneven day for Goudie, who drew a yellow card for language at the end of the first half. Goudie thought he had scored a goal but the halftime horn sounded seconds before the Laker forward released a shot.
“I told him that we needed him for the second half and to take any frustrations out on the ball and come out and play hard,” said Colchester coach Dennis McCannell on his halftime chat with Goudie. “And he did that, you could see how determined he was to score that goal.”
Added Goudie: “I erased it from my mind as well as I can. It’s always there in the back of my mind, but it reminds me to do better the next time.”
Liam Donahue and Nathan Miles provided Essex with second-half scoring chances, but Donahue’s long shot zoomed over the bar and Miles’ header just missed the frame.
The Hornets entered Friday with a 5-1-2 record since falling to Colchester on Sept. 24. And like that loss, the Hornets couldn’t strike first.
“First goals are always key in playoff games,” Essex coach Scott Mosher said. “They really outplayed us in the second half and created more opportunities. They were the better team in the second half for sure.”
Wood finished with seven saves for Essex while Liam Mooney stopped five shots for Colchester’s eighth shutout of the season and fourth in five games.