MILFORD >> It seems only fitting that in Lauralton Hall’s first athletic event as a member of the Southern Connecticut Conference, two first-time varsity soccer starters were the key contributors.
Freshman Caroline Monahan scored the game’s only goal and sophomore goalkeeper Colleen McCarthy made five clutch saves in the second half as the Crusaders knocked off Guilford 1-0 Tuesday in the season opener for both teams.
“We are new to the SCC, so we were going to come out strong,” McCarthy said.
Guilford is the defending champion in both the SCC and the Class L state division.
“It’s a great start to a new league,” Lauralton coach Pete Trenchard said. “Guilford is one of the best teams in the state every year.”
Lauralton ended its season, and its tenure as an original member of the South-West Conference, last season on the same field to another SCC team, Sheehan, in the second round of the Class M state tournament on penalty kicks.
The Crusaders didn’t score in that game and ended up in six scoreless ties during the 2013 regular season. So Monahan’s goal was a good start.
“Last year in this type of game, we would have ended up tying,” Trenchard said.
Monahan scored when she intercepted a pass, beat Guilford goalkeeper Emily Stephens to the loose ball and scored to the left side of the net with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first half. Monahan had a similar scoring opportunity on a wide open-net just minutes earlier, but hit it off the crossbar.
“I got so mad at myself,” Monahan said. “But you have to keep fighting because there is no point in giving up because the game is not over yet.”
Said Trenchard: “It’s not just what she does on the ball, but what she does off the ball, her movement off the ball is what created both of those chances.”
Guilford made a living off of set plays last year, but couldn’t register a shot Tuesday off of seven corner-kick opportunities, five in the second half.
“The people who were in there last year, Nikki Basilicato and Tori Loukakes to name two, aren’t here and they were forces in the box,” Guilford coach Scott McMahon said. “We have girls who can be forces in the box.”
Although the Crusaders didn’t man-mark Julia Carr, an All-Area and All-New England selection a year ago, they kept an eye on her throughout the game.
“We made the girls aware that is who will dictate play for them,” Trenchard said. “We tried to as soon as she received the ball for someone to be on her back (Mary Finnegan) and try to contain her. (Finnegan’s) job was to contain her long enough for one of our midfielders to come double team. I think we did a good job of frustrating her.”
Guilford outshot Lauralton Hall 12-6. McCarthy made a pair of diving saves on shots from Olivia Watrous and Allison Stephens in the second half.
“They were not average shots. When you are in there, you don’t estimate how hard it’s going to be because you are just trying to get the ball out,” McCarthy said.
Guilford lost just two games last season.
“I told them the result doesn’t matter. It’s what you do with it,” McMahon said.
Lauralton Hall 1, Guilford 0
Guilford 0 0 — 0
Lauralton Hall 1 0 — 1
First half—LHA: Caroline Monahan 37:36;
Shots—GU: 12; LHA: 6;
Saves—GU: Emily Stephens 3; LHA: Colleen McCarthy 8;
Records—Guilford 0-1; Lauralton Hall 1-0