MIDDLETOWN — In its first match this season against Shelton, even in defeat, Mercy coach Marcus Harley and the Tigers believed they were the better team.
They were out to prove it on Monday, and it showed on the scoreboard.
With the top seed in the SCC tournament still in play, the Tigers dominated the first half and got both of their goals from junior Lindsay Stevenson for a 2-0 victory over the Gaels.
The two divisional champions — Mercy in the Quinnipiac and Shelton in the Housatonic — closed out their regular seasons with 14-1-1 records. Mercy extended its unbeaten streak to eight matches, and at the same time halted Shelton’s 13-match winning streak.
“Up there (in September), we did not play our best, for whatever reason,” Mercy coach Marcus Harley said. “Today’s outcome was not a shock. We felt we were the better team all along and we showed it in the first 15 minutes.”
Mercy keeper Allesandra Fronc, who has let through only eight goals in 16 matches, made seven saves. It was her ninth shutout of the season, one short of last year’s total.
The Tigers were game from the outset and played a large majority of the first half in Shelton’s end. The Gaels did not look like a team riding a significant winning streak, and coach Marvin Miller said as much.
“We just had a lot of problems in the first half,” Miller said. “We were flat and it finally cost us a goal. “This was a big game for the seniors. We have to learn from it and react to it.”
Stevenson, who led the Tigers in scoring as a sophomore, is filling that role again, although this fall the Tigers’ scoring is spread among several others, including Emma McMurray, Sophia Finkelday and Kaitlin Malloy.
Stevenson had a couple of chances in the first 20 minutes before breaking through in the 28th minute. From the midfield, she collected a loose ball, charged down the right side and angled a shot across the goalmouth that beat Shelton goalkeeper Arianna Malick to the far post.
Shelton, which had only one shot on goal in the first half and could not sustain any sort of momentum on offense, was a different team in the second half.
The Gaels dominated possession for the first 30 minutes, but Mercy’s defense was up for the challenge. Fronc turned away two good Shelton chances in the first four minutes of the half. The Gaels put another ball on goal off a corner kick, but Fronc punched it away and the Tigers cleared it.
Shelton’s constant pressure in Mercy’s half broke in the 75th minute when a loose ball found its way to Stevenson, who broke away and ended up beating Malick for a tap-in. It was the last of Mercy’s four shots on goal in the second half.
“Because we started pressing, you can’t be upset about that second goal. You run the risk of allowing one like that,” Miller said. “This team (Mercy) is a good side and they have been all year.”
The SCC tournament starts Saturday with first-round matches hosted by the higher seeds. The final will be played Nov. 1 at West Haven High School.
“We’ve been taking things one game at a time, but we could not wait for this game,” Harley said. “Like any other game, we have every intention of winning today.”
MERCY 2, SHELTON 0
Shelton 0 0 — 0
Mercy 1 1 — 2
Goals: Mercy: Lindsay Stevenson 28:30; Stevenson 74:57. Shots: Mercy 12, Shelton 7;