WEST HARTFORD>> The home field advantage Conard had on Tuesday literally may have been the field.
The Chieftains play on artificial turf at McKee Stadium while South Windsor’s home field is natural grass. The smoother, faster surfaced played to Conard’s advantage as it defeated the Bobcats 3-2 on Tuesday.
“It definitely has a home field advantage if you’re used to practicing on the grass everyday and all your home games are on the grass,” said Conard forward Charlotte Leyland, whose team is now 8-1-1. “I think here we were able to move the ball really quickly and score a lot.”
South Windsor (7-1) had a tough time adjusting to the turf and it showed in the first half where Conard controlled most of the possession and took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
South Windsor came out stronger in the second half, gaining more of the possession and eventually tying the game with 8:32.
The game-winning goal came off the stick of Cassie Falvey with 2:29 left in the game when the Chieftains were feeling the pressure. A number of players collapsed around the goal and Falvey tapped the ball in on a rebound to win the game.
“I think defensively we may have gotten a little bit tired and we weren’t working as hard as we should have been working,” Conard defender Caroline Kane said. “But we were able to pull it out, so that’s all that matters.”
Conard’s two goals in the first half came 23 seconds apart.
Leyland dribbled in and scored from about 30 feet out for the first goal of the game and then Elizabeth Christensen put back a rebound with 9:41 left.
“We had high expectations for them coming in,” Conard coach Cathy Callahan said. “We expected we’d have to play 110 percent. Coming in that first half we definitely dominated the game.”
South Windsor created more opportunities in the second half and were eventually able to tie the game. Sarah Nickolas scored with 19:44 on the clock and Corey Callahan tied the game with 8:32 left in the second.
“It was nice to see them come back, because they haven’t been in that situation yet,” South Windsor coach Michelle Wardwell said. “So the fact that they showed heart and came back, even though it didn’t end up in our favor was nice to see.”
Everyone in the CCC is chasing Simsbury and this game helps prepare both teams for their match with the Trojans.
“This was an eye-opener to get ready for Simsbury, but Simsbury’s more like Glastonbury,” Callahan said. “We know they are more aggressive, they’re more physical with the ball and can posses it. They have good stick skills, which we have also, so it will be a nice match-up for us and its home and at 6 o’clock at night. It’s a nice advantage for us.”
Playing on the turf field was the biggest take-away for the Bobcats.
“It’s definitely preparing us for more of a turf game,” Wardwell said. “Using the whole field and not having the bounce that you can kind of play to your favor. They exposed some of our dribbling skills, which they were a little stronger with.
“I think this game would have been different if we played it at home.”
South Windsor will host Simsbury on a grass field Friday at 3:45. Conard stays home to play Windsor on Thursday and then will play Simsbury on Oct. 14 under the lights at 6 p.m.