GUILFORD — The Southern Connecticut Conference Quinnipiac Division championship for girls soccer was on the line Friday afternoon.
Both Mercy and Guilford had a level of play that matched the game’s importance: Both teams played hard, got a little physical and there were few mistakes on either side. The shot total was also fairly close.
All of that made for a predictable final result: a 0-0 tie at Kavanaugh Field.
Since Mercy (11-2-2) had handed Guilford (9-2-3) one of its two losses earlier this season, the Tigers clinched the Quinnipiac title for the second straight season.
“That’s exciting.” Mercy coach Marcus Harley said. “When there was 10 minutes left, we weren’t looking to go score. We would have loved to win, but we will take the tie. We didn’t want to push people (toward goal) and commit and make a mistake and they get a goal.”
This also ends Guilford’s string of division championships at six straight, all previously in the Hammonasset.
“We wanted it but were not fixated on it. This didn’t make or break our season,” Guilford coach Scott McMahon said. “I felt we played very well. Might be the first time in awhile where we sort of walked off the field feeling we didn’t get the result we thought we deserved.”
Guilford had more shot attempts (12-9) than Mercy did, but both had better scoring opportunities that were not on goal. Mercy goalkeeper Melina Ford finished with six saves while Guilford’s Claire Mackenzie, in her first game back after missing two with an ankle injury, collected five saves.
The division title aside, attempting to handicap the favorite in the SCC tournament beginning in a week is difficult at best. It’s wide open.
“There are a lot of teams that don’t have a weak position. They are just good, solid teams,” McMahon said. “It is pretty wide open. There no one team that is far and above the rest. Every time you think one team is about to break free, some upset happens.”
Cheshire controls its own destiny to be the top seed. The Rams have just one loss this season.
Mercy should get a home game no matter what the result is on Monday against Shelton, the defending champion. But Harley isn’t concerned about seeding.
“I could care less about the one seed,” Harley said. “We were playing to win the division, make the SCC and do what we failed to do last year (Mercy lost to Shelton in penalty kicks in last year’s final). … If we go on the road for the first game, hey, we know we can play on the turf (Mercy has a grass field).”
This was the 10th shutout for Guilford, which welcomed back center-midfielder Lexie Greene to the fold this week after missing most of the season due to injury.
“Our depth is better and our potential is higher with her,” McMahon said.
Stars of the game
Both defenses. This was the 10th shutout for Guilford and the 11th for Mercy.
“We know it’s very hard to score on us.”
— Marcus Harley, Mercy soccer coach.