MADISON – If it can get some help in the next couple of days, Hand might be able to get the top seed for the Southern Connecticut Conference girls’ soccer tournament.
The Tigers kept themselves in contention for that possibility Monday night with a 2-0 victory over Mercy at the Surf Club. Hand, 11-1-3 overall, will need a Cheshire loss against Amity Wednesday to leapfrog over the Rams into the top spot for the tournament, which begins Saturday.
“I couldn’t be happier knowing how difficult the schedule was going into the season,” Hand coach David Dkiranian said. “It wouldn’t have surprised me if we won 8 games or 10 games. To be 11-1-13, it’s been a great season for us.”
The Tigers dominated possession of the ball from the opening whistle, peppering Mercy goalkeeper Sandra Fronc with five shots in the opening four minutes.
Just 4:02 into the contest, Gabby Egidio got herself free in front of the next and put the ball past Fronc into the upper left corner of the net to make it 1-0.
“They were using the long ball and they have speed,” Mercy coach Marcus Harley said.
Hand remained in control of the ball throughout most of the first half, but couldn’t capitalize.
“I thought we dominated the game for the first 20 minutes, but we didn’t finish and kept them in the game,” Dikranian said. “We panicked a couple times – on a breakaway and inside the 18-yard box — and we shot it right to her (Fronc). Part of it was the wind was a factor.”
A stiff wind blowing off the water at the Surf Club made lifting the ball in the air difficult throughout the entire 80 minutes. In fact, Harley implored his team to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible.
“The win affected us in the second half,” Harley said. “We weren’t trying to keep the ball in the ground as much as in the first half. When we had the ball on the ground, we had possession and could move it, but we couldn’t get anything serious in the final third.”
Taylor Scully gave Hand an insurance goal at the 13:07 mark of the second half as she took a through ball from Addisyn Lanza and put a shot past Fronc was rolled into the net.
Defensively, Hand has only allowed six goals in its 15 games and it was easy to see why Monday night as the hosts outshot Mercy, 21-7. Lily Geshwind only had to make seven saves in goal for Hand as she recorded the shutout.
“We had a couple mental lapses where we let them get in,” Dikranian said. “Luckily, our defenders were solid. I didn’t think we gave them anything that was dangerous.”
For Mercy (9-6-1), Fronc was spectacular throughout the game as it could easily have been a 5-0 game if it wasn’t for her 16 saves.
“Sandra’s been great all year and has kept us in a lot of close games,” Harley said. “Early in the first half could have been 3-0. She was awesome tonight.”
Hand 2, Mercy 0
Mercy 0 0 — 0
Hand 1 1 — 2
First half—HD: Gabby Egidio 4:02; Second half—HD: Taylor Scully (Addisyn Lanza) 53:07; Shots—ME: 7; HD: 21; Saves—ME: Sandra Fronc 16; HD: Lily Geshwind 7. Records—Mercy 9-6-1; Hand 11-1-3.