NEW MILFORD — The celebration and protest started simultaneously, then stopped simultaneously for a moment.
And then they began once more, because Immaculate had a lead that the Mustangs would never again relinquish in the SWC girls soccer championship game.
Kayla Mingachos‘ shot was ruled to have crossed the goal line, barely, with 9:41 to play Thursday night, lifting the Mustangs past Newtown 2-1 for their fifth SWC title and the first for this group.
“The last time we were in the SWC (final), we lost on (penalty kicks). These seniors were sophomores,” Immaculate coach Nelson Mingachos said.
“They wanted to get back here. I tip my hat to the kids. They’ve worked hard since July. I didn’t think we’d be this good. They proved me wrong.”
The winning goal was probably the best scoring chance for the top-seeded Mustangs (18-1, perfect against the SWC), who struggled to penetrate the defense of Newtown (15-3-1) most of an unseasonably warm night at New Milford.
Immaculate’s Meryl McKenna kept a play alive with just under 10 minutes left and got it to Kayla Mingachos. Newtown goalie Juliana Stavola got a piece of Mingachos’ shot, then got a grip on it right around the goal line.
Immaculate celebrated. Newtown protested.
Two officials conferred, quieting both for the moment, and it wasn’t entirely clear right away which part of the play might be under discussion. It didn’t take long for them to agree it was a goal.
“When we got the goal, our team deserved it, working so hard,” Kayla Mingachos said.
McKenna, a freshman, was named tounament MVP.
“It feels amazing. I’m so happy for my team,” McKenna said.
Second-seeded Newtown, which lost 2-0 to Immaculate two weeks ago, played a strong game and carried a lot of the first half. Co-captains Cassidy Kortze and Grace Corcoran were among those who forced turnovers.
“I thought we fought hard,” Newtown coach Marc Kenney said. “I’m proud of them. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. It’s certainly no fault of anybody on this bench, I don’t think.”
Immaculate goalie Kristen Roessler kept the Nighthawks from taking control, though they did take a lead. Corcoran’s takeaway sent them ahead, and Sydney Howard set up Sarah Houle for a shot Roessler stopped. Emma Curtis followed up to bury the rebound 8:36 in.
“Newtown played a great game against us,” Kayla Mingachos said.
The Mustangs answered two minutes later on Lettey Stocks’ long, high shot.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Freshman Meryl McKenna kept the play going on the winning goal and was named tournament MVP.
“She’s a tough little cookie,” coach Nelson Mingachos said. “She’s been tough for us all year. She’s got a great future for us. … The sky’s the limit for her.”
Funny way to describe an All-New England goalie, but Kristen Roessler made some key saves to give her Mustangs a chance to win.
“We didn’t come out ready to play. We kind of let Newtown take it to us. I was hoping to get to halftime 0-0. They could’ve got a goal or two.” —Immaculate coach Nelson Mingachos
IMMACULATE 2, NEWTOWN 1
Records: Newtown 15-3-1; Immaculate 18-1. Goals: N—Emma Curtis; I—Lettey Stocks, Kayla Mingachos; Assists: I—Meryl McKenna; Goalies: N—Juliana Stavola (2 saves); I—Kristen Roessler (5); Shots: N—9; I—9