No. 1 ranked and undefeated Suffield beat No. 4 ranked Mercy 3-1 in the semifinal round of the Class LL girls soccer tournament in front of 500 at Rosek-Skubel Stadium at Middletown High School Monday afternoon.
“We played well; we came out strong,” said Mercy coach Marcus Harley. “We showed we could play with them, it just wasn’t our night.”
The Tigers played favored Suffield to a 0-0 draw at the half, a half that was played mostly in the middle of the field.
“This wasn’t our best effort,” said Suffield coach Dave Sullivan. “In the first half we just kind of hung on, which is a credit to Mercy. I think the kids thought I would be yelling and screaming at halftime, but to be 0-0 and not playing our best actually made me happy.”
Suffield (19-0-0) took it to Mercy in the second half and ended up with a 15-9 shot advantage.
The Wildcats first goal was textbook. Brittany Champagne made a gorgeous pass from the right sideline to Michelle D’Agata’s right foot as she was cutting towards the net. All she had to do was kick it in the net, which she did to give Suffield a 1-0 lead with 36:41 showing on the clock.
“I was absolutely comfortable going to the second half,” said Sullivan. “Once we get a lead I’m confident we’ll keep it.”
Sullivan had reason to be confident as his team had given up exactly one goal all season coming into the game. His team won the Class M title last year, but was moved up to LL this season.
“We have been a top 10 team for years,”said Sullivan. “But people said that was Class S and M. Wait until you play the big girls in LL, they said. I think we have shown we can. I know the girls always thought they could.”
In addition to the win over Mercy (17-4-1), Suffield shut out Newington 4-0 and New Milford 3-0 in the LL tourney.
Suffield made it 2-0 with 30 minutes left when Ashlie DaCruz’ corner kick was deflected into the net. The winners built the lead to 3-0 on a goal by Nicole Stryjek with 14:46 to play.
Mercy got on the board when Olivia Ozycz scored with 14 minutes left.
“Once they got a goal, that was all they needed,” said Harley. “Their defense settled in after that. We had a chance to score early and it’s a little frustrating. Sometimes it’s like we need 14 shots to score one goal. But our girls fought hard.
“It was a good fight. We lost seven to graduation and we’re very young [There are only three seniors on the Mercy roster] and it’s amazing that we got all the way to the semifinals.”
Morrissey had nine saves for Mercy, including several brilliant ones. Suffield keeper Merideth Ouellette was called on to make just two saves.
“Their goalie did a good job,” said Sullivan. “We had a better year than I expected, but when we have our chances, we finish.”