Blazer boys conference battle ends in tie

TORRINGTON – One-hundred minutes could not separate the Torrington Trailblazers and Rawlins Outlaws, with the conference matchup ending in a 1-1 tie on Friday for Torrington’s Senior Night.

Nathan Stitt got the Blazers on the board in the first half. Nate Gutierrez drew a yellow card from the keeper by drawing contact on an attempted shot. The card set up a penalty kick, which Stitt sunk into the back of the net, putting Torrington up 1-0 in the 33rd minute and Torrington carried that lead into intermission.

Rawlins rebounded with a goal on a ball that snuck into the box and the Outlaws tied things up at one in the 66th minute. Stitt gave Torrington a lead with a volley into the goal in the 74th minute, but he was ruled offside, so the goal was called back and the game went into overtime tied at one apiece.

In both extra time periods, each team had looks at the goal, but no one could take the lead. Torrington’s offensive pressure carried late into the second extra time period, but the Blazers were unable to break the tie.

“I thought we played a really good game both offensively and defensively,” coach Jeshua Arnusch said. “I also thought that we did a great job of attacking, but unfortunately for us, the Rawlins goalkeeper played a great game too. He kept the ball out of the net and did his job. He definitely lived up to his all-state status he earned last year.”

Buffalo 8, Torrington 2

The Blazers went on the road Saturday to take on fourth-ranked Buffalo and the Bison came out swinging.

“Buffalo came out fired up and we came out really flat. They got the better of us,” Arnusch said. “They won all the 50-50 balls, got numbers behind the ball and moved up into the passing lanes defensively. They took our strategy and out-hustled us. Hopefully, this can light a fire underneath us because we could very well draw Buffalo in the first round of state.”

In the contest, Buffalo racked up eight goals, with the Blazers notching two. Stitt accounted for both of Torrington’s goals. Gutierrez and Devin Flores each had an assist in the game.

Despite the lopsided loss, Arnusch still saw things on the pitch that he liked.

“Braeden (Claussen) fought the entire game and didn’t lose a one-vs-one matchup and Tristen (Kingsley) did a solid job of locking up his guy in the midfield,” Arnusch said.

“Kevin (Gunhammer) also is doing a solid job of coming in off the bench and playing minutes for us,” Arnusch added. “If he continues his trend upwards, he will find himself getting a lot more playing time in the near future.”

The Blazers now sit at 7-6-1 on the year, with a 1-1-1 mark against conference opponents, tying Rawlins with a 1-1-1 3A Southeast mark. The Blazers hit the road Tuesday to take on Newcastle after press time. Torrington has a road rematch against Rawlins in the regular season finale, with a 2 p.m. start.

“How we bounce back is going to determine how we finish the season and I’m feeling pretty good about how my guys are going to respond,” Arnusch said. “We are looking forward to playing Newcastle and Rawlins again. If we beat Rawlins, we can still get the No. 1 seed in the southeast.”

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