TORRINGTON >> A young Ansonia High School girls soccer team (1-4) is likely to surprise people in the second half of the season this year.
They came close already, Monday afternoon in a 2-1 Torrington win at the Robert H. Frost Sports Complex.
The Red Raiders (3-2) beat the Chargers 5-1 in the first game of the season, at Ansonia. PHOTOS: Ansonia at Torrington Girls Soccer
Monday, the Chargers were out front first.
The Torrington goals, both by Paige Middleton, came just in time – one, a minute before the half, for the tie, the other, three minutes before the end of regulation, to prevent one.
“It was the first game of the season and we were inexperienced,” said Megan Skuret, recalling the first-game blow-out to these same Raiders.
Skuret, who shares coaching duties with her Dad, Bill Kinsman, starts two freshmen and two sophomores, along with four seniors.
One of the freshmen, Kaitlyn Sengphilom, nowhere near five feet tall, was one of the best players on the field Monday.
Sengphilom started on defense, foiled many of the early Torrington probes, then moved up to offense for the Ansonia goal 15 minutes into the game.
“It’s different,” said Sengphilom, who’s played premiere soccer since she was eight. “I’m not used to playing defense; I’m used to attacking, but, if it helps, that’s fine.”
The strategy was one of the major differences Torrington coach Mario Longobucco saw in the two games.
“They played better. They spread their quick girls out in the front and the back,” he said.
The combination of an easy win and the Charger improvement within two weeks made it a classic trap game.
“Complacency,” said Longobucco. “They think sometimes you can just show up and win.”
Reality came slowly on Monday.
Sengphilom showed up big in the Charger backfield in the first four minutes as the Raider pressure mounted.
At the same time, Ansonia pushed back hard enough to put a spotlight on Torrington sophomore Kendra Covington as a standout stopper in the Raider backfield.
Eleven minutes in, a Charger slipped past her defender for an open shot, stopped by Torrington keeper Taylor Howe.
Four minutes later, a bullet from Sengphilom whistled past, 1-0.
“There’s your wake-up call!” hollered Longobucco.
Seconds later, senior midfielder Micaela Bottari slammed a shot from 10 yards left of the Charger goal. Junior keeper Maize Maldanado got a hand on it, knocking it to the post and out of bounds.
Now Sengphilom was back on defense, along with junior Jacqueline Daniels and Taylor Ross, nearly as quick.
Thanks to their clears, the Chargers had the best of the last 10 minutes of the half – almost.
With a minute left in the half, Middleton took a throw-in from Lindsay Trobel in the right corner. Middleton turned and sailed a perfect shot over Maldanado’s head into the far corner of the net.
The Raiders, convinced by the first half, stepped up their game in the second.
Bottari had a great try 13 minutes in. Olivia Morrison was open in the 14th. Ansonia’s Ross stopped Bottari just short of a near breakaway in the 15th.
The Torrington attack was there; the goal wouldn’t fall.
Four minutes from the end of a dominating half by the Raiders, Ansonia had its last, best shot at an upset.
Charger senior Bianca Guzman dribbled in from the right side. Howe waited, then broke for the ball, beating Guzman by a quarter step for the save before Guzman could get off a shot.
A minute later, Middleton bore down on Maldanado at the other end of the field. She got in close for a shot; Maldanado, on her knees, grabbed for the ball. Bottari got there first, flicking it back to Middleton. The junior forward rammed it home inside the left goal post.
“We made two mistakes and they capitalized,” said Charger coach Skuret.
Torrington travels to arch-rival Naugatuck Wednesday.
Ansonia takes another step up, against Sacred Heart.
Torrington 2, Ansonia 1
At Torrington High School
Ansonia 1 0-1
Torrington 1 1-2
Goals: A-Kaitlyn Sengphilom. T-Paige Middleton 2. Assists: A-Brittany Daniak. T-Lindsay Trobel; Micaela Bottari. Shots: 26-7, Torrington. Saves: A-Maize Maldonado 12. T-Taylor Howe 7.
Records: Ansonia 1-4; Torrington 3-2.