By JJ Duke
When the top two teams from the North Atlantic Conference face each other in a single-
elimination match, you’d expect it to be a nail-biting affair. And Saturday’s NPSL North
Atlantic Conference Final was no exception with the contest needing more than 90 minutes for it
to be decided.
But goals in extra time were enough for Hartford City FC to lift the trophy, defeating Kingston
Stockade FC 2-1 at Tenney Stadium.
Saturday’s win secured Hartford City’s second conference title in club history with the first
coming in the 2021 season when they defeated Kingston Stockade 3-2 at Trinity Health Stadium.
Hartford City FC will see their playoff journey continue in the East Region Semifinals on Friday,
When Hartford City and Kingston Stockade last met back on June 25th, the match had a very
cagey feel to it, and Saturday’s final was no different. Hartford City played their way into the
final by defeating the New York Shockers 2-1 on Wednesday night.
The first real moment of the match came in the 10th minute when HCFC’s Jamis Fite punched
out a cross from the far side of the field. Stockade FC’s Jacob Schulman struck the ball on the
half-volley to try and lob Fite from 40 yards out, but his shot went over the bar.
For the rest of the first half, both teams kept probing and searching for answers to break down
their opponents’ backlines, but were unsuccessful in their efforts. Fite saw a couple of long-
range efforts come close and had his palms stung by Jared Juleau’s laser from 25 yards out, but
that was as much offense that the hosts could offer.
On the other end, Hartford City had a few good moves in working the ball out to the wide areas
and getting bodies forward, but every cross was taken away by Stockade FC goalkeeper Dylan
A scoreless first half would be followed by early pressure from both teams, but Fite had to be
called into action in the 47th minute when he denied Daniel D’Ippolito with a kick save from a
In the 60th minute, Hartford City came close to scoring the opener as the Colts drew a foul about
25 yards from goal. Will Cleary struck a beautiful free kick that beat both the wall and
McDermott, but the shot crashed off the post and bounced wide.
Fite came up with two more important saves in the final five minutes of regulation, first denying
Hugo Guerra with his feet in the 86th minute and then holding onto Owen Siegel’s deflected shot
in the 90th minute. This preserved the 0-0 scoreline and sent the match into extra time.
The first 10 minutes of extra time also started with a methodical pace. But in a flash, Evan
Southern was able to race around Stockade FC defender Mario Bunjaj and reach Evan
Schweikert’s long ball from the midfield. Bunjaj then pushed the Colts attacker down at the
edge of the area, and the referee awarded Hartford City a penalty kick.
As he did on Wednesday night, Matt McGonigle took the penalty kick and sent McDermott the
wrong way as he placed it to the goalkeeper’s left, giving Hartford City the lead in the 104th
The Colts’ lead was doubled in the 108th minute when Kieran Chandler played Mark Grant
down the left side of the box, and the veteran squared it across to Henry Hamilton. Then
Hamilton put it into a gaping net for his second goal of the year in all competitions.
Kingston Stockade wouldn’t go down without a fight and made things interesting in the 120th
minute when Hugo Guerra scored by looping the ball over Fite after receiving the throw-in near
the corner flag. But it was not enough in the end as the final whistle blew moments later.
Hartford City will now travel to Montclair, NJ to face FC Motown in the East Region Semifinals
on Friday, July 21. The winner of that match will advance to the East Region Final on Saturday,
Photo Credit: Phil Zolla