Unlucky bounces keep Tomahawks from perfection
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Mon., Nov. 26, 2012
The perfect end to the perfect season just wasn’t in the cards for the Glastonbury High School girls’ soccer team. The Tomahawks entered the Class LL state final with a 19-0-0 record and a 38-game unbeaten streak stretching back to 2010. They faced Newtown (#6-seed, 16-1-3) on Nov. 23 at West Haven High School, in a battle that came down to a lucky bounce.
The teams both played well in the first half – each launched a few attacks into the opponent’s scoring thirds, but mostly keeping the back-and-forth in the middle of the pitch. The stalemate lasted 39 minutes and 52 seconds. That was when a free kick from about 40 yards out by Newtown’s Bridget Power bounced and then deflected off of players in front of the net and rolled past Glastonbury’s keeper Ciara Boucher, putting the Nighthawks up 1-0 at halftime.
“I think it was an own goal,” said Glastonbury coach Joe Finocchiaro. “I think it was re-deflected by one of our players. Our goalie was going to collect the ball, and I believe it hit off the side of one of our players as the goalie was going one way, then it got re-directed and she couldn’t catch up to it.”
“I’m not sure,” Boucher said. “It might have [hit our player]. I couldn’t really tell.”
Glastonbury came out swinging in the second half, clearly out-playing Newtown and dominating possession. The Tomahawks got several shots away, but didn’t find the equalizer until 13:20 left in the game, when Eren Cosgel tucked one into the net from close range.
With Glastonbury playing with momentum and determination, counter-attacks were hard to come by for Newtown in the second half. One of the rare chances for Newtown resulted in a corner by Lydia Beiter resulted in a flurry in front of the net, and landed at the feet of Sarah Lynch, who placed it over Boucher for the game winner.
“It was a lucky bounce,” Finocchiaro said. “It landed on their foot instead of our foot, and they put it away.”
“I went down for it and she just chipped it over,” Boucher said. “It was a good finish on her part.”
Glastonbury out-shot Newtown 22-7. Newtown goalie Caitlin Yakush had 10 saves. Boucher had two saves.
“We just ran out of luck,” Finocchiaro said. “Newtown played very well, and very hard, and we were unlucky.”
Finocchiaro said his team couldn’t have played harder, and it was just those couple of unlucky bounces that were the difference.
“They played until the last second,” he said. “They left everything out on the field, and it was unfortunate.”
Finocchiaro said he had little choice but to play his team forward to get the tying goal, and wasn’t worried about a counter-attack, counting on his offense to win out. “We hit the post,” he said. “I think we hit their goalie in the cheek a few times. We just couldn’t catch any breaks today.”
When asked about whether being unbeaten all season added pressure, Finocchiaro said he didn’t feel like he ever thought about that, but Boucher said there was some sense of that amongst the players. “Everyone else is looking at you,” she said. “You’ve got a huge target on your back.”
Finocchiaro said his team has plenty to be proud of. “I’m very proud of this team,” he said. “They played their hearts out the entire season.”
With only five seniors graduating – including tri-captains Kristin Dragotta, Kate Smith and Katie Connolly, as well as Michelle Woodhouse and Melissa Andrade – the Tomahawks look to return strong next year.
“We’ll be back,” Finocchiaro said. “We’ll regroup and we’ll be back.”