Girls soccer: Steadfast seniors, determined defense

The St. Joseph High back line of senior Samantha Lello, junior Christina DiCesare and sophomores Tory Bike and Alexis Mason varied its form all season, depending on what an opponent had planned. What the quartet never did was get outworked and that continued in the Class L state title game.

St. Joseph shut out 3-of-4 teams in state competition, including a 2-0 victory over a previously unbeaten Suffield High team in the finals on Saturday, Nov. 21, at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.

“The whole season we’ve been playing me or Tory on one of the forwards and one behind so there is always coverage,” said Lello, an Endicott College-bound stopper. “With multiple forwards, Maia Moscova drops back so either Tory or I are free.”

Jenna Bike scored at 17:26 and Lindsey Savko made it 2-0 at 29:05 of the first half, but the Cadets were steadfast on the back line the entire match.

“Today, I thought they were fantastic,” Nogueira said of his defense. “Tory Bike and Sam Lello did a tremendous job… We had people helping on defense. So it worked out well for us.”

St. Joseph (21-1) outshot Suffield High (19-1) by a 20-3 margin.

Cadet goalie Veronica O’Rourke preserved the clean sheet in the 69th minute, denying Alyssa Bergamini on a breakaway on the Wildcats’ best scoring chance.

Leah Lewis, Marissa Grasso and Jenna Bike joined Lello on the pitch playing in their last scholastic game.

“This win means everything,” said Lewis, who will be playing collegiately at Colgate University. “After we lost to Ridgefield (2-0 in the FCIAC final) the seniors definitely wanted to go home with this title.”

Grasso will be playing at Bryant University.

“Ending my high school career like this, with these teammates, is indescribable. They had a talented undefeated team, so we really had to work hard for this.”

Jenna Bike, the final’s MVP, was happy to close out her stay at St. Joseph with another championship.

“Our mentality coming in was that this was our last time together,” said Bike, the state’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year who will be playing at Boston College. “They were so good on the back end (having allowed only three goals in 19 games) that we wanted to keep building up our numbers and attacking.”

This was the third meeting between between Suffield, from the North Central Connecticut Conference (NCCC),  and St. Joseph, from the FCIAC, to decide a championship.

The Cadets defeated the Wildcats 2-1 in the Class LL final in 2013. They also won a 1-0 decision in the Class M final in 2007.