For over a decade, the Wallingford schools have been at the bottom of the SCC Housatonic Division, looking up at the Amitys, the Cheshires and the Sheltons in girls soccer.
With the complete shakeup of division play in the off-season, Sheehan, one of the smallest school enrollment-wise in the Southern Connecticut Conference, now resides in the Oronoque and more evenly-matched against its opposition like Sacred Heart Academy and Wilbur Cross.
“I’m playing only a couple of LL teams,” Sheehan coach Rob Huelsman said. “It’s made it more of a level playing field versus playing Amity, a LL team that’s very good, and Cheshire, a LL team that’s very good.”
Amity and Cheshire are no longer on Sheehan’s schedule, but Shelton, another LL school is. And that’s Sheehan’s biggest win in the early-going, 2-1 over Shelton, the reigning SCC tournament champion, at home last Wednesday.
Junior Kelsey Burr had the deciding goal and added an assist. Freshman Olivia Dubuc had the other goal for the 4-0-1 Titans.
“They have a very good pool of freshmen and underclassmen. From year to year, their pick of players is much greater than mine and other schools,” Huelsman said about Shelton. “It’s definitely good confidence builder. It’s where do we go from there. I think we are going to get better. When it comes down to the end of the season, you hope to be firing at 100 percent with everything working and then have an opportunity to do well in the state tournament.”
It was another Burr-to-Dubuc combination that gave Sheehan the deciding goal in the 77th minute against Sacred Heart Academy, a new division rival, on Sept. 15. On Saturday, Dubuc scored three of Sheehan’s four goals and Burr assisted on all three.
“Kelsey (a returning All-Area performer) plays for a very strong program (Oakwood) in the off-season. That has helped her improve her speed and how she reads the game,” Huelsman said. “Most players are dominant with just their right foot. She can score with both her right foot and her left foot and in some cases, she’s more dangerous with her left foot.”
Huelsman also said that Burr “has her heart set on playing in college” and wants to become an elementary school teacher. Amanda Gray and Julia Podchaiski have also helped contribute on offense.
The Titans’ defense has three underclassmen, along with junior Samantha Larkin. They have made life easier on goalkeeper Kaitlin Lagasse, who learned plenty from former Sheehan goalkeeper Joelle MarkAnthony and is also tutored by assistant coach Wendy Valerio (Lucibello), a former keeper at Sheehan herself.
The quality play has the Titans currently sitting atop the SCC Oronoque Division. That continued good play could end up in Sheehan’s first division title since 1998. But there’s plenty of time to decide that still.