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A final TWIST before closing

WALLINGFORD — The 29th Wallingford Invitational Soccer Tournament was sweet for three Wallingford squads.

The U12 boys Division II Wallingford Nitro, the U14 girls Division II Wallingford Tornados and the U16 boys Wallingford Warriors polished off the tournament Monday morning with championship hardware.

“TWIST this year was a success again,” said TWIST co-director Dave Rodriguez. “We got so many compliments from the teams, coaches, spectators, referees and parents. It was another special year.”

Rodriguez, who is head coach of the Warriors, won the final of 18 title tilts on Championship Monday, held on the vast campus of Choate Rosemary Hall.

Despite the Warriors having the best of chances to score throughout regulation in their final against Brazil CT Yellow, the two teams went into overtime. Wallingford continued to dominate in the extra period and finally saw some results thanks to forward Carmelo Saia.

The striker struck twice in the first 10-minute overtime period to lift the Warriors to a 2-0 OT win.

“We finally put it together at the end,” Saia said. “We played together as a team the entire game. I took advantage of two good opportunities.”

Saia had a total of four goals as the Warriors went 5-0 in TWIST action.

“This win is so special,” Rodriguez said. “This is the last TWIST for these guys. They played together since they were 9 years old. Waiting until overtime wasn’t the plan. We had plenty of chances early in the game, but this was a great win.”

That was only one of three thrilling Wallingford victories Monday morning.

The Nitro won their U12 title with a 2-1 victory over the Prospect Select Club. Jack Gaynor put Wallingford on top with a tally with 30 seconds left in the first half on a crossed header off the free kick of Tyler Stowik.

Stowik helped the Nitro take a 2-0 advantage setting up teammate Quinn Crowther’s goal from a corner kick.

“This is a fantastic group of kids,” Nitro coach Sean Stowik said. “They are best friends and they all hang out, so this is just a lot of fun to coach this team. The nice thing about our team is that we are all home-grown Wallingford kids. We had 18 kids try out for the team and we took all 18. We sub a lot.”

Prospect added a goal in the closing minutes for the game’s final score. Sean Stowik was soaked with water by his team after the contest.

The Tornados earned Wallingford’s lone girls title of TWIST and they did it in dramatic fashion. The Wallingford U14 team got 1-0 revenge against LYSA Jr. Lions of Massachusetts, the team that ousted the Tornados from the TWIST finals the past two summers.

“Winning the state cup in June and now winning this, you couldn’t end the season any better,” Tornados coach Scott Bradley said. “We’ve played over 320 games together over the last six years. This has been a great team.”

Kaleigh Putnum tapped one by the Lions goalie with less than two minutes left in regulation to seal the victory for Wallingford. Shannon Bradley was credited with the assist.

“The defender lost it and kicked it up and I just kept pressuring her and eventually I got it and I just went for a place in the goal and it went in,” Putnam said. “It was exhilarating and was really fun to finally win a TWIST tournament. We were disappointed the last few years.”

Cammi Chester earned the shutout in net for Wallingford.

Three more Wallingford teams were runners-up on Monday. The boys U11 Division II Wallingford Raptors lost to LYSA Vikings 1-0.

The girls Division II Wallingford United team were blanked by Brazil CT Yellow 3-0.

Julia Podchaiski had the girls U11 Division II Wallingford Wildfire’s lone goal in a 3-1 defeat to the Ludlowe Lady Lions.

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