— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) October 20, 2016
WEST HAVEN – In the final regular season home game for the West Haven girls soccer team, it is only fitting that senior star Gabi Prisco scored once again.
What may be more impressive is a younger player who sees Prisco as a mentor, assured the Westies they would not leave the field without a victory in the seniors’ final regular season home contest.
Freshman Jessica Robinson and her teammates wanted to be sure to send the seniors off in proper fashion. Robinson more than held up her end of the deal.
Scoring twice in the second half, both off assists from Prisco, Robinson helped the Westies defeat Branford 3-2 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Hammonasset Division contest at Ken Strong Stadium Wednesday evening.
“It is really great to help the seniors go out with a win,” Robinson said. “She (Prisco) has taught me so much. I hope to use everything she has taught me over the next three years. This was a special night for the seniors, and we wanted to be sure we won for them. I got two perfect passes from Gabi.”
Trailing 1-0 after Keeley Ann Lepre scored for the Hornets with 18 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the first half, the Westies got an earful from the coaching staff at halftime and immediately showed they would come out stronger in the second half.
Just 5:06 into the second half, Robinson picked up her first goal of the night when Prisco fed the freshman in front and Robinson knocked in a loose ball past Branford goalkeeper Nina Grabowiecki to even the game at one.
“We got a nice talking to at halftime,” Prisco said. “We had to pull ourselves together and play together. We came out and played hard.”
With West Haven putting on all the pressure in the second half, Branford used a counter attack to take a 2-1 lead 10:19 inti the second half.
Senior Morgan Ashby fed a nice ball to Bridget Wirtz, who had her shot stopped by West Haven goalkeeper Betsy Magana. The rebound went out front to Wyntre Fries who knocked in the loose ball for a 2-1 Branford lead.
“This is our seventh game we lost by one goal,” Branford coach Jen Kohut said after her team fell to 2-12. “We worked hard. We are a scrappy team. In the first half, I think we took it to them. But, it was their Senior Night and they were not going to go away easy. They came out with a lot of fire in the second half.”
The lead for the Hornets lasted just 1:45 as Prisco scored her team-leading 16th goal of the season. Junior MacKenzie Holy made the play as she went through the Branford defense and fired a shot towards the net which Prisco deflected home.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the first half,” West Haven coach Pete Trenchard said after his team improved to 7-3-4. “The second half was a better example of how we have been playing. It (goal) was what we have come to expect from Gabi (Prisco) and Lauren (Lewis). They give everything they have. When you have that, you always have a chance.”
That hard work of the Westies continued and paid dividends just over eight minutes later as Prisco once again fed a ball in front. Robinson was in the perfect spot next to the left post as she tapped in her second goal with 19:36 to go for a 3-2 West Haven lead.
“She has been working hard all year,” Trenchard said of Robinson. “She had done everything but score. She was able to get two big goals today.”
West Haven, which is 6-1-3 in its last ten games and is still in contention for the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament, survived a late scare as Branford’s Wirtz sailed a shot just wide from 12 yards out with 9:40 to go in the game.
“Tonight was very emotional,” Prisco said as she upped her point total on the season to 43. “It was good to come away with a win on Senior Night. We had a challenge tonight.”
Magana made three saves in the win for West Haven, while Grabowiecki made seven saves for the Hornets.