MIDDLETOWN >> Facing high scoring Mercy at Tiger Field is going to prove to be a tough chore for any team in the Southern Connecticut Conference this season. But when you venture to Middletown without your starting goalkeeper, well, the task then becomes almost impossible.
Olivia Ozycz tallied three goals and Alex Zampini had four assists as Mercy defeated East Haven, 9-2, Wednesday afternoon.
The Yellowjackets, who are still searching for their first win of the season, were without sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Esposito (red card suspension). Sophomore backup Maria Petruzzelli drew the goaltending assignment and her inexperience showed as Mercy built a 4-1 halftime advantage.
“Give credit to (Petruzzelli),” said East Haven coach Ray Curren. “Her first game ever was a week ago. We were going to put a field player in goal but we decided to stick with her and she made some saves. The score is going to say 9-2 but give her all the credit in the world to step up in a situation like that. She did a heck’uva job.”
Mercy continued to pepper the net in the second half, outshooting the Yellowjackets, 33-9.
Ozycz, who leads Mercy with seven goals, scored her third goal in the 50th minute to give the Tigers a 6-1 lead.
“I couldn’t do it without my teammates but it was really exciting to get three goals,” said Ozycz. “We have a really strong offense and defense. We’re doing well.”
With Kendra Landry and Zampini controlling the midfield, Mercy also got goals from Danielle Richardson, Haley Vanty, Ryan Miela, Isabel Mesquita, Blakeslee Palmer and Katelyn Richardson.
“We were attacking,” said Mercy coach Marcus Harley, now in his fourth season at the helm. “We haven’t had any offense the last couple of years so we’re scoring goals. We have a younger defense so we expect to give up a goal or two. But we have the offense to hopefully overcome it most games.”
Nicole Avena scored East Haven’s goals off a pair of assists from Megan Kikosicki. The Yellowjackets, who have played a brutal schedule thus far with games against Hand, Shelton, Guilford and Branford, fell to 0-3-3.
“We were down a few other people today too,” said Curren. “Hopefully, we can get over this. We keep telling them we can’t make excuses. It’s hard but we’ve got to learn from it. We’ve got half a season left so we’ve got to keep fighting through it and do the best we can.”
Mercy, which improved to 4-1, has high expectations this season after reaching the SCC semifinals and the Class LL quarterfinals a year ago.
“We expect to win our Quinnipiac Division and hopefully compete in the SCC tournament,” Harley said. “We fell short last year in PKs against Shelton (in the semis) and we’re looking to go to the finals this year and advance deeper into the state tournament.”