HARTFORD – Most of Granby’s 10 seniors have been playing soccer together since they were seven years old. A few days ago, the players got a written note from their former travel coach.
“He wanted to stress that we were part of a family and that this was going to be our last game,” said Maria Nolan, one of nine senior starters for Granby. “He wanted us to have fun and enjoy it.”
The Bears did, setting a state record in the process.
Nolan and Tessa McMillan each scored twice as top-seed Granby scored the first five goals in a dominating 6-1 victory over third-seed Plainfield in the Class M state final on Saturday at Dillon Stadium. It’s the second Class M state championship in three seasons and seventh overall for the Bears (20-0-0), who were the only unbeaten and untied team in the state this season.
The six goals scored is a CIAC finals record for girls soccer.
Samantha St. Pierre added one goal and two assists for Granby and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
— Tim Murphy (@TimMurph27) November 23, 2019
“I came in feeling confident, but I didn’t expect to win by five goals,” said St. Pierre. “Everyone played so well — our forwards, our midfielders, our backs, our goalie. It really was a collective effort.”
“This team just didn’t want to lose,” said Granby head coach Ed “Moose” Dzielak. “Even in scrimmages the seniors would get upset when they came out of the game.”
Led by midfielder Kate Carleson, Plainfield actually had more possession at the start of the game. But senior centerback Emily Miller and the rest of the Granby defense prevented the Panthers from building quality chances, keeping the contest scoreless through the first 30 minutes.
Nolan then gave Granby a 1-0 lead, taking a pass from St. Pierre, cutting in alone in front, and sending a shot past Plainville goalie Madison Pearson.
St. Pierre made it 2-0 less than five minutes later. Sarah Cramer sent a ball over the Plainfield backline, allowing St. Pierre to use her speed to create a breakaway that she calmly finished.
“It was a great pass from Sarah,” St. Pierre said. “I was able to go in one-on-one with the goalie.”
Down two goals, Plainfield applied pressure early in the second half. Olivia Digiacomo forced Granby goalie Felicia Fauteux to make a high save, and Karley Belisle shot wide on the rebound.
A few minutes later, Plainfield had another opportunity after Granby was called for a foul just outside the box. Lindsey Price went for the top-right corner on the free kick but sent her shot wide.
Granby then reasserted itself, capitalizing on the open space created by Plainfield pushing forward.
Against the run of play, McMillan scored to put the Bears ahead 3-0 in the 50th minute. Six minutes later, Nolan converted a pass from St. Pierre, and four minutes after that McMillan easily finished on a set up by Nolan off a nice sequence.
Plainfield, which lost to Lewis Mills in last year’s Class M final, avoided a shutout on Carleson’s goal with 1:45 remaining. Granby’s Natalie Schock then ended the scoring with 19 seconds left.
“I think we were nervous at the start of the game, but once we got the first goal we were able to relax a little,” Nolan said. “We fed off each other after that and finished the season the way we wanted to.”