SHELTON — Marvin Miller called it “6 minutes of just superior soccer.” It took less time than that for the Shelton girls soccer team to put up the game’s only three goals.
Haley Oko scored a pair and Noelle Garretson added the final goal for Shelton in its 3-0 win over Mercy Saturday at Finn Stadium. It was Mercy’s first loss of the season.
The three goals were scored fewer than 4 minutes apart.
“I think we played for each other tonight and it really showed,” Oko said.
The Gaels (5-2-1) have been up and down during the first half of the season, already equaling last season’s number of losses. But no one is counting out Shelton in the race for the Southern Connecticut Conference championship.
“I think it will be tough. We will hold our own, but it’s going to be a race for it. It’s going to be hard (to win the title again),” Oko said.
Said Miller: “We told the girls, ‘If you are going to be the defending SCC champions, we have to go out and play every game like we are.’ That’s our mission now. You have to come take it from us.”
Mercy (6-1-1) had gone six straight games without allowing a goal since just one in the season opener. That included handing Guilford its first loss on Tuesday.
— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) October 5, 2019
But the rematch of the SCC tournament final from a season ago turned relatively quickly in the Gaels’ favor. Oko was able to get a loose ball in behind Mercy’s defenders, take it down the right side and fire into the bottom left corner past Mercy goalkeeper Melina Ford.
“That first goal was a mis-kick. She (a Mercy defender) went to kick it and it went backward,” Mercy coach Marcus Harley said. “That super-fast Haley girl got to it like she probably practiced it on breakaway drills. She did what she was supposed to do and she scored.”
Oko’s second goal was almost a carbon copy of her first one 3 minutes, 20 seconds later to make it 2-0 with still 18:05 left in the first half.
“Both through balls came from the center-mid, a breakaway type of thing. I came in sprinting from the side and finished to the far corner,” Oko said.
Said Harley: “The second one I thought she was offsides. The ref didn’t call it.”
Just 22 seconds later, Garretson scored for the Gaels.
Shelton’s defense was able to do the rest, keeping dangerous forward Lindsay Stevenson and midfielder Emma McMurray off the scoreboard.
“We knew they were going to press. We had to win that first 15 minutes of the second half and I think we did,” Miller said. “They were dangerous, but we were always able to rise up when they challenged.”
We’ll see you again soon
Shelton and Mercy will square one more time during the regular season on Oct. 28 in Middletown, less than a week before the SCC tournament begins.
Star of the Game
Haley Oko, Shelton: Scored the first two goals of the game and the Gaels never looked back.
“Toss it up as a tough 3 minutes and 44 seconds and move on from here. We have another game on Monday, a good thing. The girls will shake it off.”
Marcus Harley, Mercy soccer coach