WATERBURY >> It’s a new division for Immaculate, but the same dominant Mustangs showed up in a 3-0 Class M girls soccer semifinal win against Lewis Mills Monday night at Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium.
Immaculate ruled Class S for years, got bounced up to Class L and won that two years ago.
“This would be our first Class M championship,” said Coach Nelson Mingachos.
Staring at all that history, who could blame Mills for being tentative for the first 15 minutes of Monday’s game?
“We got caught up in the moment,” said Spartan coach Dave Francalangia.
Against Immaculate, that was long enough to fall into a deep hole.
The Mustangs, ranked No. 15, from the South-West Conference (12-3-5), came in with a fearsome reputation for scoring off corner kicks.
“We talked about covering their corners,” said Frankalangia, whose Spartans were No. 3, 17-3 in the Berkshire League.
Dominating for those first 15 minutes, Immaculate earned its first corner kick four minutes into the game.
Two minutes later, another one verified the Mustang reputation.
McKinsey Jarboe, Immaculate’s corner kicker all season, booted the ball into the box. Senior Kayla Lanza, Jarboe’s season-long target, headed it into the goal.
“I just get my space and jump as high as I can,” said Lanza, 5-feet-6 at most.
Immaculate had six corners in the first 11 minutes.
“We were kind of shell-shocked,” said Coach Francalangia.
Before the Spartans recovered, Immaculate bore down in the open field in the 14th minute. Audrey Sednesky passed to sophomore Hailey Dubbioso, 20 yards out on the left wing.
Dubbioso’s shot sailed in for a 2-0 Mustang lead.
In a “what’s-the-worst-that-can-happen?” awakening, the Spartans roared to life, playing the rest of the game relatively even with the Mustangs.
“It was a good team finishing their opportunities and a good team not being able to put it in the net,” said Francalangia.
Both defenses gave as good as they got. Against Mills’ attack, the final Immaculate stopper was often junior goalkeeper Kristen Rossler, in her third year as Immaculate’s starting keeper.
“I think she’s one of the better goalkeepers in the state,” said Coach Mingachos.
With Mills pressing, Rossler had eight good chances to prove it, none better than a reflex save off a corner-kick header 23 minutes into the game, mirroring Immaculate’s first goal if it made it past Rossler.
By the end of the half, the teams were almost even in shots (5-4 Immaculate).
Rossler made two great saves in the first three minutes of the second half.
Then the field evened out again.
Thirteen minutes in, after another Rossler save, the Mustangs countered with a shot by Kayla Mingachos.
A Spartan defender deflected it. Lanza pumped it back into the net.
The game was effectively over, despite two more good chances by Spartans Chloe Waldron and Alyssa Wrabel in the final 10 minutes.
“If we’d put one in in those first few minutes, the game might have been different,” said Coach Francalangia.
“We’ve been here before,” said Coach Mingachos. “Losing in the second round (in Class L) last year left a bad taste in our mouths. We’ve played well the last couple of weeks.”
The Mustangs play No. 4 Notre Dame-Fairfield Saturday for a chance at another championship.
No. 15 Immaculate 3, No. 3 Lewis Mills 0
At Municipal Stadium, Waterbury
Immaculate 2 1 – 3
Lewis Mills 0 0 – 0
Goals: I – Kayla Lanza 2; Hailey Dubbioso. Assists: I – McKinsey Jarboe; Audrey Sednesky; Kayla Mingachos. Shots: 11-8 Immaculate. Saves: I – Kristen Rossler 8. LM – Lauren McCard 5.
Records: Immaculate 12-3-5; Lewis Mills 17-3.