Girls soccer: St. Joseph to play for Class L championship
The St. Joseph High girls soccer team defeated Daniel Hand of Madison, 1-0, in the Class L state semifinals at Willow Brook Park in New Britain on Wednesday night.
The third-seeded Cadets (17-1-1) will play fifth-seeded Masuk High (15-1-2) for the championship on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Middletown High. The Panthers defeated Farmington High, 2-0, in their semifinal.
“I thought it was an ugly game, we didn’t really play our best soccer,” St. Joseph coach Jack Nogueria said.
“Hand did a good job of defending us. They put a couple of people on Jess Mazo in the middle, they were man-marking her all over the field with number eleven (Riley Kokoruda).
“Hand did a good job marking Jess and marking Lindsey Savko up top, so we had to find other ways to win the game.”
Alexis Mason delivered the lone goal with 15:18 remaining.
Collecting a clearing attempt, Mason dribbled 10 yards forward before unleashing her shot just outside the 18.
“It’s just all or nothing,” Said Mason, a junior. “We have fifteen minutes left in the game, take any shot we could. We had trouble finishing our chances. Their goalie (Lily Geshwind) was really good. I knew I had to put it to the corner. We didn’t give up. Lindsey was being heavily marked, but we just kept going, tried to pressure going forward.”
St. Joseph had the better of play in the first half, taking eight shots and forcing Geshwind to make four stops.
Savko, coming off a three-goal game in the quarterfinals, broke the heavy marking by the Tigers with a steal of a short goal kick. But her shot from in close hit the right post in the 23rd minute.
St. Joseph keeper Veronica O’Rourke, who had to make only one save in the first half, was equal to the test in the 59th minute when she stopped Gabby Egidio’s attempt for the equalizer off a free ball in the box.
With the win over the seventh-seeded Tigers (12-2-3), the Cadets will have an opportunity to win its second consecutive state title. St. Joseph defeated Suffield High, 2-0, in the 2015 final.
When asked about the chance to repeat, Nogueria said: "It’s a testament to those guys. A lot of people didn’t believe that we could do that after losing three kids to Division I. But this group found a way to get back there. I’m very proud of them. These kids are very resilient.
“Bottom line is I coach at St. Joes to win championships; they come to St. Joes to win championships. We’re giving ourselves an opportunity to do that. Now we’ll see what happens.”