WEST HAVEN – Coming into the regular season finale with three losses in its last four games, the West Haven girls soccer team knew the importance of Tuesday’s game vs. Lyman Hall.
Not only did West Haven want to get in the win column to snap the two-game losing skid, but the team knew a two week span awaited before its next game in the state tournament.
Scoring three times in the second half, West Haven defeated the Trojans 3-1 in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision contest at Ken Strong Stadium Monday evening.
“We will give them a couple of days off to heal,” West Haven coach Pete Trenchard said. “It will give the girls time to heal and recover. We have some girls who have some bumps and bruises and others who have not been feeling well. We will give them a few days to recover, then it will be going back to basics like a two-week preseason camp.”
West Haven (6-5-5) scored three times in the final 14 minutes, 21 seconds to seal the victory. Sophomore Taylor Nowak was the key piece in the initial goal as she carried down the right side then cut in from five yards out, sending a perfect cross in front which fellow sophomore Jessica Robinson directed in for a 1-0 advantage.
“In the second half, we possessed the ball,” Trenchard said. “Taylor (Nowak) went wide and sent a beautiful cross to Jessica Robinson in front and she (Robinson) was able to get it in.”
The Westies increased the lead to 2-0 just 2:31 later when Keegan Riccio picked up a rebound of a shot by Robinson and drilled a shot to the lower corner.
Lyman Hall (3-8-3), which saw its two-game winning streak snapped, cut the deficit in half with 4:49 to go and made the game interesting once again when Alexis Eaton tapped in a loose ball in front past West Haven goalkeeper Alycia Morales.
With the Trojans back in the game, West Haven ended any chance of a comeback 1:20 later. Mackenzie Holy set up a breaking Kelsey Gilmore who knocked a shot to the lower corner for the final goal of the game.
“This game was definitely important for us,” Holy said. “It gives us a chance to get a higher seeding in the states. I think we wanted it more in the second half.”
The four goals in the final 15 minutes of the game was a clear difference from the first 65 minutes when both teams battled for space and scoring opportunities.
Lyman Hall’s Marissa Guidet shot wide from 28 yards out to open the second half, and Ryleigh Shortell send a looping ball in from 30 yards out which Morales caught without allowing a rebound with 15 minutes remaining.
For the Westies, the second half saw Nowak shoot wide five minutes in, and Gilmore denied a scoring chance when Lyman Hall goalkeeper Hannah Blanchard dove to prevent a shot from 25 yards out with 26 minutes left in the second half.
“We needed some momentum going forward,” Trenchard said. “We have not been at our best and we wanted to finish strong. That means a lot.”
Julia Blanchard was stopped from 10 yards out by Morales 12 minutes into the contest, and Riccio hit the post for West Haven from 15 yards out with 7:30 left in the opening half.
Morales made three saves in the win for West Haven, while Hannah Blanchard made two saves in the loss for Lyman Hall.
Lyman Hall coach Tony Crane had no comment following the loss.