MIDDLETOWN >> Powered by a second half hat trick from junior forward Olivia Ozycz, the Mercy girls soccer team rolled past Shelton, 6-1, for their sixth consecutive victory Monday afternoon at Middletown.
Seniors Blakeslee Palmer and Emma Thomas had one goal apiece for the Tigers, who will be looking to secure one of the top seeds in the upcoming Shoreline Conference tournament when they host North Haven in their season finale tomorrow (3:45).
“We’re trying to hold on to that third spot,” said Mercy coach Marcus Harley. “Cheshire’s right behind us.”
Kendra Landy, Danielle Richardson and Alex Zampini had one assist apiece for the SCC Quinnipiac Division champions, while goalkeepers Alyssa Morrissey and Audrey Boyce combined for seven saves.
Ozycz, who finished with four goals, gave Mercy an early 1-0 lead by one-timing a beautiful crossing pass from Landy into an open corner of the net.
But the Gaels (4-8-3), who are fighting for a state tournament berth, put pressure on the Tigers after Ozycz’s score and tied it at 1 when junior forward Laurel Bailey beat a defender up front and buried a shot to the far corner in the 28th minute.
Mercy (12-2-1) regained the lead when Shelton goalkeeper Jessica Wilm (four saves) came out of the net to corral a bouncing ball but Wilm couldn’t control it and Thomas was there to kick it into an open net, giving Mercy a 2-1 halftime lead.
“(Shelton) came prepared with a game plan to try and counter our speed by setting an offside trap and it was working,” said Harley. “At halftime we explained it to the forwards how to attack it and they did a much better job in the second half.”
Palmer found some room up front and knocked in a shot for a 3-1 advantage.
Ozycz then scored three goals, including two on breakaways, in an amazing two-minute span. “She just made the adjustment and we played the ball over and she used her speed,” said Harley. “She showed her composure and finished those goals.”
Mercy outshot the Gaels, 20-13.
“Matching with their speed, that was a challenge,” said Shelton coach Marvin Miller. “We just started making some mistakes, mental errors and some poor marking decisions and got ourselves in some trouble and couldn’t get ourselves out of it. This game may have put us out (of the state tournament).”
Ozycz has a team-high 16 goals this season.
“The last game we only one by a goal (2-1 over Sacred Heart Academy) so it was exciting to get a 6-1 win,” said Ozycz. “We’re excited for (the SCC tourney). I think we’re going to do really well.”