EAST HAVEN >> Even the oldest members of the current Guilford girls soccer team were in their early years of grade school the last time the Indians won an SCC soccer championship.
That was in 2002. Guilford hadn’t even been to a final since, which may come as a surprise for a program with seven state championships to its credit.
But the drought is now over. Allison Stephens’ goal with 8 minutes, 3 seconds left in regulation gave top-seeded Guilford the 2-1 win over second-seeded and defending champion Branford in the final at East Haven High.
Guilford is the first No. 1 seed to win the SCC title outright since Amity did it in 2006.
“I told the kids at halftime that wasn’t our best half,” Guilford coach Scott McMahon said. “We wanted to show everyone how well we can play and how well we could do.”
The Indians (17-2) managed just one shot in the first half, but began to apply pressure to Branford’s defense early in the second half. The Indians finally got the equalizer with 16:30 left in regulation. Julia Carr’s corner kick went directly to Nikki Basilicato, who headed in the goal.
Carr scored with 29 seconds left for Guilford’s third goal.
Guilford held Branford (16-2-1) without a shot in the second half.
“They were faster to pretty much every ball,” Branford coach Jen Kohut said. “Once they scored that (first) goal, it was going to be trouble.”
Rachel Cholewinski, playing with a torn ACL in her knee, scored off of Sara Consolo’s corner kick in the 10th minute of the first half for the Hornets, who were attempting to become the first team since Cheshire in 2005 to win consecutive SCC titles outright.
“We have played well all season,” Kohut said. “I feel like people don’t think we have played well all season. We are 16-2-1. We are a good team. They were the better team tonight.”
Goalkeeper Becca Vitale went down hard for the second time in the second half with 5:02 left with what Kohut called a right shoulder injury. She was replaced by Foley Riggs for the rest of the game.
Guilford 3, Branford 1
(at East Haven)
Branford 1 0 — 1
Guilford 0 3 — 3
First half—BR: Rachel Cholewinski (Sara Consolo) 10:00; Second half—GU: Nikki Basilicato (Julia Carr) 64:30; Allison Stephens 71:57; Julia Carr 79:31;
Shots—BR: 3; GU: 9;
Saves—BR: Becca Vitale 1; Foley Riggs 0; GU: Emily Stephens 1;
Records—Branford 16-2-1; Guilford 17-2