Bike, Savko score goals to gain Class LL final

Jenna Bike and Lindsey Savko scored goals in the second half when the No. 3 seeded St. Joseph High girls soccer team defeated No. 2 seeded Glastonbury High, 2-0, in the Class LL state tournament semifinals at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven on Monday night.

Coach Jack Nogueria’s Cadets (18-0-1) will play No. 1 Suffield High (19-0-0) on at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at Falcon Field in Meriden for the state title at a place and time to be determined.

The Wildcats defeated No. 4 Mercy High of Middletown, 3-1 in their semifinal.

“I thought twenty minutes in when they were playing one forward and five in the back that we were too good of an offensive team not to score,” said Nogueria after leading the Cadets to their second straight state final.

“Cori Scales had a great ball to Jenna (Bike) and then we settled things down.”

Scales delivered a great ball from just inside the Cadet side to Bike, who while on the run managed to get enough of a touch on the ball as she raced by the near post to place it past Tomahawk keeper Ciara Boucher, who had eight saves, four in each half.

The goal came at 28:03 mark of the second half and Savko scored the second tally at the 19:49 mark.

It all started with a pass from Sabrina Toole to Christina DiCesare, who was seeing increased playing time after senior striker Samantha Grasso was fouled and had to leave the game with a hip injury with 7:23 remaining in the first half.

Three inbounds passes resulted from the foray into the Glastonbury zone, before the Cadets were awarded their first corner opportunity.

The ball was loose in the box and Sara Chile got a touch by a defender to Savko, who sent it through another defender and into the net.

Glastonbury, led by stellar forwards Madeline Gray, Mara Cosentino and Madeline Riggott, looked to respond, but couldn’t dent the Cadet defense of Sabrina Toole, Scales, Chille and Adrienne Williams in front of goalie Molly Meehan, who had five saves.

“We had to stay disciplined and stay on our marks,” Toole said. “They were trying to go over the top, so we had to keep our focus.”

Savko and Claire Duffy played up to keep the pressure on, while Alex Waizenegger, Samantha Lello and Julia Marino helped control the midfield.

Samantha Grasso was a thorn in the side of the Tomahawks, who have made three straight finals the past four seasons, in the early going, as the senior forward had three shots, two on net.

The game’s physical nature became apparent when Bike was hipchecked and sent sprawling in the 32nd minute. Samantha Grasso went to the turf three times in the opening stanza before finally walking gingerly off the field.

“We were injured, but we had players step up,” Nogueria said.

While the Cadets played the ball to the feet, the Tomahawks were content to count on breakaway attempts with Gray and Cosentino.

Lello had a great tackle in the 29th minute on Cosentino, regained her footing and cleared the ball to Williams.

Riggott’s cross to Gray resulted in Meehan making a save on a low kick from inside the box at 18:22.

Her best stop came when she juggled, then grabbed, Cosentino’s hard liner at the 15-minute mark.

St. Joseph countered quickly, and Samantha Grasso and Boucher collided when the keeper came off line to reach the ball simultaneously at 14:32.

While the Cadets adjusted after Samantha Grasso went out, Glastonbury put together a brief flurry, but each time Scales, Toole, Chile, Marino and Waizenegger turned back the Tomahawks to maintain the scoreless deadlock into the half.

Glastonbury earned the game’s first corner 13 minutes into the second session, but Lello easily cleared a low liner from the box.

After Savko made it 2-0, the Tomahawks’ Riggott had a shot go off the crossbar at 18:07.

St. Joseph looked to add to its lead with 10 minutes remaining.

DiCesare forced a giveaway in the Glastonbury half, and fed Duffy, who passed to Bike, whose blast was punched wide by Boucher.

Off the ensuing corner, Toole hit a rocket that forced Boucher adjust and save with a full-out dive to her left.