NORWALK — Brien McMahon girls soccer coach Angelo Tsingerliotis knows for his team to be successful, its players have to use their heads.
In Monday night’s FCIAC showdown with cross-city rival Norwalk, the Senators did just that, scoring three goals off of set pieces — two via impressive headers — in a 4-1 win over the Bears at Casagrande Field.
“We’ve been practicing that this week,” Tsingerliotis said. “We have people who can head the ball well, but we haven’t seen much of it in recent games.”
Twice Marysia Slowik took set piece boots and placed them perfectly, leading to headed-in goals by Olivia Leone and Mikayla Fosina.
Leone’s staked McMahon to a 1-0 lead in the first half.
“During our practices, we’ve been working on a lot of corners and crosses and set pieces,” Slowik said. “The girls know where they have to be when I cross it in. I’m pretty good at aiming the ball where I want to, so if they’re there we have a pretty good chance on finishing.”
Slowik’s corner kick to Fosina’s head came six minutes after the Bears cut a 2-0 lead to 2-1 and gave the Senators the momentum back as it played into the wind.
“She’s our set piece taker,” Tsingerliotis said. “She knows who to pick up and knows where to find them. If she puts it in the right spot, we have girls who we know can finish it.”
Peyton McNamara added a nifty breakaway goal off a perfect through ball from Chloe Ortolano, who tallied McMahon’s final goal off an assist from Fosina.
Norwalk goalie Sabrina Bailon made 12 saves.
The Senators improved to 7-2-2 on the season with the win, which was the team’s third straight over Norwalk.
As nice as McMahon’s first goal was, the Slowik corner kick to Fosina was just as important because it did answer Norwalk’s goal.
The Bears’ Caila DeGrandi blasted a 45-yard direct kick that skidded on the wet turf and skipped past McMahon keeper Tatiana Arias (4 saves), cutting the Senators lead to 2-1 with 30:26 to go.
Six minutes later, Slowik placed a corner kick that just missed Ortolano’s head, but found Fosina’s for a 3-1 lead.
“It’s key not to put your head down and be down about it,” Slowik said. “You have to keep on going to work hard and get that next goal.”
THE COHEN MVPS
Leone and DeGrandi were named their team’s respective Chelsea Cohen MVP winners with the Senator senior winning it as much for her defense at center back as it was her first goal.
“I think we really stepped up to the plate,” Leone said. “I think we adjusted to the wind and I think everybody worked really well on the defensive line.”
Norwalk continues to show improvement on the pitch, but it’s just not showing in wins, which is frustrating the Bears.
“It’s a credit to the girls,” Norwalk coach Mike Surace said. “A lot of times at end of games coaches will pull me aside and say, ‘They look great, they’re not the same team they used to be.’ The play hard, play good soccer, but I’m hearing the same thing for three years and I heard it again tonight.”
“I am proud of the way we played against them,” Surace added. “We fought them tough. They scored off three set pieces, so that’s something we have to do better. Otherwise, we were right there. We played with heart today. I’m proud of them.”
McMAHON 4, NORWALK 1
McMAHON 1 3—4
NORWALK 0 1—1
Team Records: McMahon 7-2-2, Norwalk 2-9; Goals: BM—Oliva Leone, Peyton McNamara, Mikayla Fosina, Chloe Ortolano; N—Caila DeGrandi; Assists: BM-Marysia Slowik 2, Ortolano, Fosina; Goalkeepers: BM—Tatiana Arias (4 saves), N—Sabrina Bailon (12 saves)