BRANFORD — The defending SCC girls’ soccer champions are off to a great start this fall.
Branford, which won the SCC title in 2012, improved to 4-0 with a 4-1 victory over East Haven Friday afternoon at the James MacVeigh Alumni Athletic Complex.
“Four goals was huge for us,” Branford coach Jen Kohut said. “I’m very pleased with the way we’ve been working together.”
Branford took an early 1-0 lead with 21 minutes, 18 seconds left before halftime off a corner kick. Sara Consolo got the ball to Cassidy McCarns right in front of the net and she beat East Haven goalkeeper Caitlyn Esposito for the score.
Branford goalkeeper Becca Vitale (five saves) was barely challenged throughout the game.
East Haven (0-2-2) had just one big chance and that came because of a defensive breakdown. The Yellowjackets were able to get by the Hornets’ defense and Megan Kikosicki fed Nicole Avena a great pass down the right side. Vitale was left unprotected and Avena blasted a shot past her into the top left corner of the net to tie the score at 1-1 with 16:03 remaining until intermission.
Branford didn’t take long to take the lead for good.
Less than 7 minutes later, East Haven’s Caitlyn Campbell was whistled for a push in the back, a call Yellowjackets’ coach Ray Curren wasn’t happy with.
“I didn’t agree with the call,” Curren said. “Two of their goals were on set pieces.”
The call gave Branford an indirect kick.
Emma Pottenger tapped the ball over to Tanya Altrui, who blistered a shot past a diving Esposito into the bottom right corner of the net to make it 2-1.
“That was a huge goal for us,” Kohut said. “She needed that. Tanya’s been taking those and they had been going over the net.”
Branford, which dominated the first half with the ball being in the East Haven end close to 90 percent of the time, got an insurance goal just 4:06 into the second half.
Pottenger ran down the middle of the field and passed the ball to Rachel Cholewinski coming down the left side. Cholewinski then left-footed the ball past Esposito into the top-right corner of the net.
“We talked about it at halftime that we got a little sloppy,” Kohut said. “We had to take care of business in the second half, especially with this rivalry.”
The Hornets tacked on their final goal with Shyla Coughlin passing the ball from the left side of the field to the right to Jenna Vitale, who posted her first career varsity goal as Esposito couldn’t get over quick enough to knock the shot aside.
“We have a good defensive team, but we weren’t ready for their speed,” Curren said. “They made us look silly. We were just chasing shadows and eventually you’re going to get picked apart.”
Branford outshot East Haven, 24-6, with Esposito recording 20 saves.