MIDDLETOWN >>They were just sophomores on that historic night in Portland when the Coginchaug girls’ soccer team captured the school’s first Shoreline Conference championship. Now, Blue Devils seniors Megan Sirois, Kara Mather, Kim Romanoff, Alison Luther, Morgan Kuehnle, Alexis Johnson and co-captain’s Victoria Buonanni and Kasi Whitaker want to make more history.
“They want to be able to leave here being the only class that had the opportunity to maybe do it twice,” said Coginchaug coach Megan Kavanaugh. “It’s really important for the seniors right now to have that kind of identity as a strong class because when they were sophomores we had a phenomenally strong senior class. Now, it’s their turn to take the reign.”
The Blue Devils senior leadership certainly came to the fore Thursday afternoon in Old Saybrook when the upset-minded Rams took an early 1-0 lead. That was the first time Coginchaug has trailed all season.
But the Blue Devils responded with a pair of goals, including a goal from Romanoff in the 38th minute that proved to be the game-winner, and remained unbeaten with an exciting 2-1 victory.
“They definitely didn’t like (trailing),” said Kavanaugh. “It kind of got them sparked and ready to go.”
Old Saybrook, Class S quarterfinalists a year ago (the Rams lost to eventual state champion Immaculate in double-overtime), grabbed a 1-0 lead on a goal from senior sweeper Mary Kate Morrison in the 12th minute.
Rams junior forward Molly Beck launched a corner kick into the box where Mather, the Blue Devils keeper, deflected the ball off the crossbar. But Morrison pounced on the rebound and knocked it over Mather’s head for the score.
“We knew they hadn’t lost so we were kind of coming into this pretty excited, hoping we could beat them and getting the first goal is always good,” said Old Saybrook coach Larry Bright.
The Rams outshot the Blue Devils, 18-11.
“Old Saybrook’s a good team,” Kavanaugh added. “They’re physical and they’re strong. They play hard and our kids weren’t quite ready for their intensity to start. We were struggling a little with the field at times because we’re used to the turf.”
The Blue Devils tied it when Luther blasted a shot from the right side that deflected off Morrison and sailed over the head of senior keeper Mia Neas in the 33rd minute.
A few minutes later Buonanni sent a crossing pass to Romanoff, who was unmarked near the net, for the winning score.
“It was beautiful executed,” said Kavanaugh. “Vic pulled it up the line and she’s got great speed and Kim has a knack for finding the ball and finding the back of the net.”
Old Saybrook (2-2-2) had a chance to tie it towards the end but Mather reached up and caught a long kick from senior Amanda Simoni.
“We had an own goal essentially, so they only scored one goal against us,” said Bright. “Maybe we walk out of here with a tie. So considering they’re probably one of the top teams in the Shoreline, if not the top team, we played them very, very well. We just missed opportunities and that was the difference.”
Mather finished with 14 saves as the Blue Devils improved to 6-0.
“I’ve got great leadership in my senior class,” said Kavanaugh. “Kara came up big today and when we needed her she did everything we could ask her to do.”