GREENWICH — The Branford Co-op girls hockey team (Branford-East Haven-North Branford) has only played in the state tournament once before and has never reached a semifinal.
To say No. 8 Branford were underdogs coming down to Dorothy Hamill Ice rink to take on No. 1 Greenwich in the quarterfinals of the CHSGHA state tournament, would be an understatement.
After going down a goal and being dominated in the opening minutes of the game, it looked like it could be a long night for Branford but then a switch flipped.
Branford freshman sensation Julianna Constantinople caught fire, goalie Julia SanGiovani turned into a brick wall and Branford raced to a 4-1 upset of the Cardinals.
“This is crazy. It’s crazy,” SanGiovani said. “Throughout the game I was just in net and our girls are working as hard as they can out there and I am yelling the whole time. This is such a good feeling. Never did we think we would come to Greenwich and beat the No. 1 seed in their home rink but we just wanted it more today and we got it.”
SanGiovani made 19 saves for Branford.
Branford will play the winner of Suffield-Enfield-Housy-Ellington-MLC against Amity-North Haven-Cheshire in the semifinals next week at a neutral site.
Greenwich controlled play early on, taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Paige Finneran with 11:32 left in the first period.
While the Cardinals dominated the first five minutes of play, Branford was ready with the answer.
Branford tied the game on a power-play goal by Constantinople with 7:02 remaining in the first.
Branford then shocked the Cardinals with two quick goals in the second period.
Emmy Norton put Branford ahead with a tally coming 15 seconds in to the second period and a minute later, Constantinople put Branford up by two with a nifty goal.
“I don’t know if we were aggressive enough. They certainly wanted it and were fighting but we didn’t rise to the occasion,” Greenwich coach Alex Lerchen said. “(SanGiovani) is a really good goalie and was excellent tonight. We were trying to move her and shoot low but if you don’t use your hands in front, she’s going to be all over it.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Constantinople, Branford, Constantinople completed her hat trick with a short-handed goal in the third period, putting the game away for her team in the process.
“We have two very dynamic players and an incredible goal tender,” Branford coach Jack Norton said. “We are a scrappy team and they come and play hard every game. (Constantinople) is an incredible player. There is nobody in the state that’s as good as her and we are lucky to have her.”
BRANFORD-EAST HAVEN-NORTH BRANFORD 4, GREENWICH 1
BRANFORD 1 2 1–4
GREENWICH 1 0 0–1
Scoring: G—Paige Finneran B—Juliana Constantinople 3, Emmy Norton. Assists: G—Sydney Orszulak B—Sophia Caturano. Goalies: G—Jessie Aselin 12 saves B—Julia SanGiovani 19 saves
Records: B—16-4; G—16-2-1