By STEVE KIRCK
Special to GameTimeCT
Meriden >> After watching his freshman team practice four years ago, Guilford head girls soccer coach Scott McMahon sat them down and told them that this was what a state championship caliber team in the making looked like.
McMahon’s words are now prophetic as that group, augmented by a talented junior class, including the uber-talented Julia Carr, will play for a state championship courtesy of a 1-0 win over top-seeded RHAM in the CIAC Class L semifinals Monday night at Falcon Field in Meriden.
Fourth-seeded Guilford (20-2) will play neighboring town and fellow SCC rival Branford, a 1-0 winner over Immaculate, in Saturday’s Class L championship game at a site and time to be determined.
Guilford will be making its 10th state title game appearance, but its first since 2003, when the Indians were declared co-champs following a 1-1 tie with Farmington.
The Indians have Carr to thank for their chance at the school’s eighth state championship. In the 62nd minute, she took a throw in at the top right corner of the box, spun to her left and arched a perfect volley into the upper left corner of the net for the game’s lone goal. RHAMgoalie Ashley Acosta had no chance.
“I got a throw in off the side, felt the defender, and spun,” said Carr, “and then I hit a shot with my left foot to the far post. It’s a spinning shot that I practice and it went in.”
“We have a lot of great players and Julia is one of them,” said McMahon. “She has some special talents. She made a great move, shot itwith her left foot, even though she is right footed, and put it right where she wanted to. It was a great shot.”
In an evenly played first half, Guilford appeared to score a goal off a corner kick with under four minutes left in the half. Carr’s corner was headed in but Guilford was whistled for a foul which negated the goal.
“We left it all on the field,” said RHAM head coach Melissa Kissane. “Carr is an unreal athlete with a great shot. They tried to get corner kicks all game because of her spinning shot. We did a good job containing her but great players are going to get one chance and she found a way to get one through.”
RHAM (18-3), which created two scoring chances after Carr’s goal, had their best chance to score midway through the first half. Lexie Burgess found herself just outside the box and blasted a drive, but Guilford goalie Emily Stephens made a diving save.
In an evenly played game, both teams had nine shots with each goalie making five saves.