The Guilford girls soccer team fought back from a two-goal deficit to tie Avon in the Class L state tournament quarterfinals last month.
The defending champions were alive and well and seemingly headed for overtime – except for one last shot from Avon, a long-distance shot with 1 second left in regulation.
“The whole time, I was looking at the clock knowing all we have to do is hold it here,” Guilford midfielder Julia Carr said. “I think we all underestimated how a goal can happen with a second left. It was devastating. I said to myself, ‘Did this actually happen or am I dreaming? I looked at the ball in the goal, I looked at the clock and I looked at (Guilford coach Scott McMahon), who was on the ground, on his knees holding his head. The two goals we got didn’t matter. I don’t even know how to express it even now. I try not thinking about it. Only one second left, we couldn’t do anything to fix it.”
So Avon moved on and Guilford’s title defense ended. It also ended the career of several seniors, including Carr, the best player in the Southern Connecticut Conference this year and the Register’s Area MVP.
The numbers for Carr the last two years speak for themselves. She finished with 20 goals, one more than in 2013, and 15 assists, the same number both seasons, to also be named the SCC’s Player of the Year.
Carr, 18, was the specialist for the Indians, taking most of the corner and direct kicks the last two years. It resulted in a lot of assists and back-to-back SCC championships.
“She brought us to another level,” McMahon said. “She gave us some comfort that we had the best player on the field. I’ve coached a lot of very, very good teams and some awesome players, but we haven’t had the best player on the field at the most important moment like we had the last two years.”
Cheshire was the one team that had success against Carr and Guilford the last two seasons, winning three of four regular season games. The two teams then met in the SCC tournament final in October. Guilford won 3-1 to claim that second straight title.
“We were ready for them. We had a bad finish losing at their field (4-1) on their Senior Night,” Carr said. “I made it my personal goal that we needed to win no matter what.”
Guilford received a first-round bye in the L tournament, then beat Ledyard before falling to Avon, which lost to Immaculate 2-1 in the final.
“We tried our best, did everything we could, trained hard, pushed each other, but something was not in our favor in the Avon game,” Carr said. “It felt like a (state) final, it was so intense. I think we reached our peak, but I wish we would have gone further.”
Carr said UConn showed some interest in her, along with Trinity and Leslie, but she decided before the season started that she would play at Division III Conn College in New London.
She noted that the school’s soccer field is in the middle of campus. Students can look out their dormitory windows to watch the action, she said. Conn College being a small school also appealed to Carr.
“I wanted to be more than just a number,” Carr said. “I think my experience in Guilford has been extremely supportive. I got the whole high school experience. Our principal and teachers came out and supported us. It’s not like you were playing for yourself. I liked the whole school environment. Conn College has a similar thing where everyone goes out and supports the team.”
Carr said she intends to major in behavioral neuroscience, which is the study of physiological, genetic and developmental mechanisms of behavior in humans.
There is now a void at Guilford as the Indians try to figure out how to replace 35 goals the past two seasons.
“Offensively, we will have to probably be more creative as a team,” McMahon said. “She stayed in the middle of the field for us and still scored lots of goals. At the same time, she made it so everyone could be less responsible because she took all the pressure. It will take a team effort to overcome her loss.”