DANBURY — After a rough week that included back-to-back, one-goal losses to Newtown and Weston, Immaculate High School girls soccer coach Nelson Mingachos said his team needed a healthy dose of “Vitamin W” Saturday against Notre Dame of Fairfield.
That is to say, the Mustangs really needed a win.
Thanks to a timely goal from Genesis Rodriguez and an unyielding defensive effort, the Mustangs got just what they needed in the form of a 1-0 win in a clash of perennial South-West Conference contenders.
“We had a hectic week, with Newtown, Weston and now Notre Dame, and we needed to get back to our winning ways,” Mingachos said.
Rodriguez scored in the 11th minute, banging home the rebound of a shot by Kayla Mingachos. Other than that, it was a relatively even game. Each team mustered eight shots and each team’s defense stood its ground. Immaculate goalkeeper Sophia Mingachos made three saves, and Notre Dame’s Tia Pascarelli made five.
“They made a play and we didn’t make a play. That’s the game,” Notre Dame coach Wayne Mones said. “Give them credit, and we have to get better if we want to go far.”
Regardless of the outcome, the teams remain two of the best in the SWC. Both Immaculate (10-3-1, 8-3-1 SWC) and Notre Dame (9-1-1, 8-1-1 SWC) figure to be in the title hunt when the eight-team conference playoffs roll around. The quarterfinals are set to begin on Oct. 26.
“I feel like we can go far,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like we all have talent and we have the right mind-set. We’re hoping for the best.”
Once again, the SWC title appears as if it will be anyone’s for the taking once the playoffs begin.
“The playoffs should be fun,” said Nelson Mingachos, whose Mustangs are the reigning SWC champs. “I’ve said it from Day 1, the eight teams that get into the SWCs this year will all have an opportunity to win it. Everyone is competitive, and everyone has a great chance of winning, home or away, and getting on to the next round.”
EARNING HER KEEP
Sophia Mingachos was pressed into action in goal to give Immaculate’s regular starter, Aimee Cirella, a day to heal up following Friday’s 2-1 loss to Weston.
“Our goalie got a little banged up last night, so I decided to keep her out for the day,” Nelson Mingachos said. “Sophie went in and she did great in there. She didn’t cause us any problems, and I thought the girls really picked it up. They played hard and they played smart.”
Mones would’ve liked his Lancers to have challenged the Mustangs’ goalkeeper a bit more.
“You can’t win a game if you put no shots on the goal,” he said, “especially when they have their second-string goalkeeper in. I’m sure she was a little nervous, but we really didn’t test her. We hit the post, we just missed, but we had to put it on the frame. We didn’t, and I think that was the ball game.”
HE SAID IT
“I liked the way we played today,” Mones said. “There have been games that we’ve won that I didn’t like the way we played. I liked the way we played today, we just didn’t finish the job.”
IMMACULATE 1, NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 0
Records: ND-Fairfield 9-1-1, 8-1-1 SWC; Immaculate 10-3-1, 8-3-1
Goals: Immaculate: Genesis Rodriguez (from Kayla Mingachos), 11:00. Shots: Notre Dame-Fairfield 8, Immaculate 8. Saves: Notre Dame-Fairfield: Tia Pascarelli 5; Immaculate: Sophia Mingachos 3.