WOODBURY >> Housatonic soccer fans thinking a close early-season Nonnewaug win at Housatonic without Mountaineer star Lauren Segalla would have a different outcome at Nonnewaug Tuesday afternoon were disappointed two ways.
The Chiefs (11-0-1) won by the same 2-1 score they did at Housy while the Mountaineers (9-3) played again without Segalla.
“She’s taking a break,” said Coach Tess Segalla, denying any injury after an ACL tear kept Segalla out for the first month of the season.
Segalla’s absence was a surprise, since the senior star (120 career goals) was at the heart of Housatonic’s win over Lewis Mills (9-2) last week.
“We prepared for her,” said Nonnewaug Coach Nick Sheikh. “It’s a different dynamic with Lauren in there. Without her, there was a little letdown at our end.”
The irony was stark because Housatonic, beginning with Coach Segalla, brushed off the effects.
“We have a good team,” said Coach Segalla. “Lauren doesn’t always have to be featured.”
The result at both ends turned into a lazy first half.
Playing dead even in the early moments, the Mountaineers laid a soft shot off the Nonnewaug crossbar, then another to goalkeeper Jen Charette (10 saves) in the fourth minute.
The Chiefs were back hard to Housy keeper Molly Dowd (10 saves) six minutes later.
Action fell into slow motion at times in the 85-degree heat.
Nonnewaug’s offense built.
Twenty-three minutes into the game, Christina Sordi took a pass on the left wing from Mary Bibbey, firing 15 yards into the net, over a crowd standing in the box.
“We always start slow,” said Sordi. “We’re a second-half team. They have a really strong defense. Their center back (Emily Geyselaers) is really quick and it’s hard to crowd the middle of the box.”
“(The Mountaineers are) fighters; they play hard every play,” said Coach Sheikh.
Leading 1-0, the Chiefs redoubled their effort in the second half. Housy keeper Dowd made a great save on a breakaway by Brooke Malkin, then fended off two more shots in succession in the third minute.
By the ninth minute, a Housy bench player proclaimed, “I love Molly Dowd.”
“I’ve said it for four years, she’s one of the best keepers in the league,” said Coach Segalla.
Dowd’s saves kept Housatonic in the game for much of the second half.
Then, with 28 minutes gone, Mountaineer sophomore Josie Horosky took a pass from Genevieve Bushey 25 yards straight out, lofting a pure shot over Charette’s head for a 1-1 tie.
Five minues later, Sordi chipped a pass to sophomore Azria Malloy on the left side. Malloy wheeled around a Mountaineer defender, shooting into the far corner of the net just past a diving Dowd’s fingertips.
For the final seven minutes, Malloy starred on defense while Charette made one last great save.
“I always played midfield, sometimes defensive midfield, so I know how to do it,” Malloy said.
“It was closer than we like,” said Sheikh. “We need to get back our stride and play our style. It’s been missing the last three games. In the (state) tournament, you get maybe two chances; we’ve got to finish.”
“If (Housatonic) played like they did in the second half against Mills, we would have won,” said Coach Segalla. “Are they more skilled that we are? No way. They played with more energy.”
Housatonic plays at 6-5-1 Northwestern Friday. The Highlanders tied Nonnewaug 2-2 last week.
The Chiefs host a dangerous 8-4 Terryville.
Nonnewaug 2, Housatonic 1
At Nonnewaug High School
Housatonic 0 1 – 1
Nonnewaug 1 1 – 2
Goals: H – Josie Horosky. N – Christina Sordi; Azria Malloy. Assists: H – Genevieve Bushey. N – Mary Bibbey; Sordi. Shots: 14-10 Nonnewaug. Saves: H – Molly Dowd 10. N – Jen Charette 10.
Records: Housatonic 9-3; Nonnewaug 11-0-1.