CLINTON — Morgan girls soccer coach Steve Sullivan called it the longest 25 minutes of his life.
He probably was exaggerating a bit, but the Shoreline Conference champions withstood fierce pressure to beat fellow Shoreline Conference rival North Branford, 2-1, Wednesday afternoon in the second round of the CIAC Class M tournament at the Indian River Complex.
“They were throwing everything at us,” Sullivan said. “One of the things that’s impressed me the last couple (of) years is our resolve to handle that type of pressure. We’ve usually come out on the right side when teams throw that type of pressure at us.”
Fifth-seeded Morgan (16-1-3) will host 13th-seeded Nonnewaug-Woodbury (13-5) at 4 p.m. Friday at Indian River Complex in the Class M quarterfinals.
“The whole idea of this tournament is to survive and advance,” Sullivan said. “That’s what I just told them.”
After 25 minutes of back and forth action, Morgan took what would be a short-lived 1-0 lead. Alyssa LeMay dribbled the ball almost to the end line and got Thunderbirds’ goalie Allie Augur to come out a little bit towards her. But LeMay flicked a soft pass to an open Chloe Bousquet right in front of the net and she tapped it past Augur, who couldn’t make the stop at the 25:44 mark.
Just 34 seconds later, North Branford knotted things up. Ana Pavic sent a long cross from the right side that beat Husky goalie Rebecca Cockley.
LeMay ended up scoring what would be the game-winner with 2:37 remaining in the first half. From about 40 yards out on the right side, she lofted a long, high shot that ticked off Augur’s fingertips and went into the top left side of the net.
“She (Augur) is phenomenal and we practiced shooting at a lot of different areas where it’s hard to get to,” LeMay said. “My main purpose was to get it to the back post.”
“It was a well hit shot,” Augur said. “Sometimes you have to give props to the shooter.”
North Branford had a couple of chances to tie things in the latter part of the second half. Augur came out of the net to take a direct kick from about 40 yards out with 19:11 to play and hit it well, but it was high and hit the middle of the crossbar.
The Thunderbirds had another chance eight minutes later, but Cockley was able to make the save during a scramble in front of the net.
“They did what they needed to do by putting the ball in the back of the net,” North Branford coach Pat Kozlowski said. “They are fast team and they played well tonight.”
Cockley had three saves for Morgan, while Augur stopped six shots for 12-seeded North Branford, which completed its season at 10-4-5.
“We wanted to make a run after not being able to do what we wanted to in the Shoreline tournament,” Kozloski said. “We thought we had new found life in the tournament, so it’s a hard one to swallow.”
Morgan 2, North Branford 1
North Branford 1 0 — 1
Morgan 2 0 — 2
Goals: Morgan (Clinton): Chloe Bousquet (from Alyssa LeMay), 25:44.North Branford: Ana Pavic, 26:18:. Morgan (Clinton): Alyssa LeMay, 37:23.
Shots: North Branford 4, Morgan (Clinton) 8