SOUTHBURY — Whenever the South-West Conference girls soccer rivals Pomperaug and Newtown get together, the games are usually hard-fought and dominated by tough play on defense.
It was that way last season when Newtown won its first SWC tournament title with a 1-0 win over Pomperaug and a week ago when the teams played to a 1-1 tie in their 2019 season-opener.
On Thursday, the trend continued.
Holly McFarland scored at 58:44 and Kate Johnson added a goal at 62:11 to lead Pomperaug to a 2-0 win over Newtown at Pomperaug High.
“Since we lost to them in the SWC final last year, this group had a lot to prove,” Pomperaug coach Jillian Cipriano said. “It’s early in the season, but getting this win is huge for everyone. It gives us some momentum going forward.
“The key for us was keeping their top scorer Karsen Pirone from getting a goal. I switched three different defenders on her and they did their job. Camryn Ward and our outside backs did a good job on defense.”
While most of the scoreless first half was played between the 25 yard lines, both teams had their opportunities to get a goal.
Pirone broke down the left wing and sped past two defenders. She took an open shot from about 18 yards out. But the ball flew wide right of the goal at 15:30.
The Nighthawks (1-1-2) initiated a breakaway down the center of the field and Haley Meisenheimer took a shot from about five yards out. But the shot was slightly deflected and went wide right at 25:20.
One of Pomperaug’s best shots in the half came off a free kick at the 10-yard line. Erina Ismaili took the restart and lofted a high shot that went wide left with 4:30 left in the half.
The Panthers came out more aggressive in the second half and Naomi Stietzel set the tone within the first minute. Stietzel grabbed a loose ball amid a scramble in front of Newtown goalie Juliana Stavola. She one-timed a shot but Stavola smothered the ball for the save 50 seconds into the half.
“We always challenge our players to come out strong and try to score the first five minutes of every half,” Cipriano said.
The Pomperaug (1-0-2) pressure continued in the second half.
Johnson sent a pass from the left wing to McFarland in front of the right post and blasted a shot inside the post for the 1-0 lead in the 58th minute.
“This was a super intense game,” McFarland said. “In the second half we came out strong and we wanted to play our game, play the ball wide and be strong on defense. When I scored I got a great pass from Kate and when I scored I couldn’t believe it.”
Johnson added the insurance goal in the 62nd minute.
Pomperaug goalie Sydney Weiss ended up with three saves and Stavola had four.
“We were great in the first half and had our chances to score,” Newtown coach Marc Kenney said. “But in the second half they took it to us and had us on our heels. They played with more intensity that second half. The thing is it’s only one game of 16 in the regular season. There are a lot more games on our schedule.”