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Staples Nips Simsbury in State Quarters

Frankie Bergonzi does not score a lot of goals for the Staples High boys soccer team. He does, however, score important ones.

None was bigger than the header the senior defender punched into the goal off Jake Krosse's corner kick with 2:42 left in the first half Monday to give fifth-seeded Staples (19-2-1) a 1-0 win over No. 12 Simsbury in the quarterfinals of the Class LL tournament. Staples will meet No. 17 Hall High in Wednesday's semifinals at a site to be determined. Staples is seeking to become the first team since Naugatuck (2001-02) to win consecutive state titles.

"We had a lot of opportunities earlier in the half but couldn't get it in,'' said Bergonzi, who also scored in a Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference playoff victory over Wilton. "Jake put a good ball in, and I was able to get a head on it." Krosse lofted a beautiful corner toward the far side of the goal, and Bergonzi deflected it cleanly past Adam Ziewacz (four saves).

Staples played without leading scorer Greg Gudis, who suffered a broken tibia in last week's win over Guilford. Max Hoberman stepped into the starting lineup and played solidly at forward. Lars Erik Aanestad and Ben Root came off the bench and saw significant minutes for the Wreckers.

Bergonzi and a Staples' backline that included Sean Gallagher, Jake Malowitz and Steve Denowitz withstood a furious Simsbury assault in the final 10 minutes when the Trojans pressed for the equalizer. Goalie James Hickok made six saves and posted his fourth shutout in six postseason games.

"We've had a core group of guys who can play a lot of different positions,'' Bergonzi said. "It hurts us not have Greg. He's a great player, and we miss his ability to score goals. Fortunately, we had some guys step up and give us a big lift."

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