MILFORD — Platt Tech’s Jaelynn Mitchell scored a pair of goals when the Panthers defeated Bullard-Havens, 5-2, in a Connecticut Technical Conference girls’ soccer semifinal match at the Orange Avenue Sports Complex on Thursday.
With the win, coach Dennis Vai’s club will play for their third consecutive CTC title when they take on Windham Tech in Saturday’s championship game set for 4 p.m. at Cheney Tech in Manchester.
The No. 3 seeded Panthers, now 13-2-2, split with the top-seeded Mighty Tigers (15-1-1), losing 3-2 on Sept. 20 and winning 1-0 on Oct. 11.
Windham Tech defeated No. 4 Norwich Tech/Holy Family, 3-2, in their semifinal.
p class=”p1″>The Panthers were the top seed the last two years. They defeated Windham Tech in 2018 and shared the crown with Windham Tech in 2017.
— Bill Bloxsom (@blox354) November 7, 2019
“Finishing, it has been a problem for us all year.” was Vai’s answer when asked what Platt Tech would need to do to win the rubber match. “We are faster than most teams. And, as you saw today we have opportunities.”
Tech out shot No. 3 seed Bullard-Havens 15-9, with 11 of the those chances coming in the second half.
Mitchell, a hard-working junior, attacked from the midfield to score go-ahead goals in the 23rd and 48th minute against the 11-3-3 Tigers. Mitchell has a CTC leading 14 goals.
“This means a lot to me, and my coach, my family,” she said. “It means a lot to all of us. For the third time in a championship, is really a blessing. I’m really excited to go to championships.”
Jennifer Almeda, Kirializ Negron and Mina Millington scored the other Panther goals.
Gina Baculima and Tiajah Coles had goals for Bullard-Havens.
“Platt came out aggressive,” said Tiger coach Jeff Velez, whose team had tied Tech twice at 1-1 in the regular season. “They kept attacking. I was proud of the girls. They fought back. That is the main thing about these players, they never give up.”
Coles sent a free kick on target to Baculima, who found the net to deadlock the match at 1 with 7:45 remaining in the first half.
Tigers’ keeper Mexley Montes, seeing her first varsity start, stopped a free kick from Dani Arriaga that turned into a corner opportunity in the final minute. Hamerlyn Arriaga looked to finish, but BH’s Sandra Robles cleared the ball from the box at the whistle.
Tech’s Briana Aguilar and Rachel Norabuena kept threatening the back 30 with passes to Dani Arriaga, Millington and Almelda.
In turn, Bullard’s Erika Zhipson, Amanda Gomes, Coles and Robles looked to free up Anihah Araujo, Baculima and Nataly Ascenzio.
Montes punched away three shots in a torrid one-minute of action early in the second session, with help coming from Stephanie Montes, Shayla Flores, Julia Zambrano, Emilia Gonzalez and Jennifer Cuautie.
Mitchell then took control from the middle, beat her defender, and finished off a long run with a goal in the 48th minute for a 2-1 Tech lead.
The Panthers kept at it, and seven minutes later Almelda scored for a 3-1 lead.
The call at this point from Vai was for his team to close ranks and help defend keeper Kim Chiroy.
Alana Caamano, Brianna Almezy and Dani Arriaga did as ordered, making things difficult for the Tigers.
Bullard took advantage of a set piece to get back into it.
— Bill Bloxsom (@blox354) November 7, 2019
After Coles’s pass to Araujo was knocked down in the box, the handball ruling gave the senior tri-captain a penalty kick opportunity, which she buried at 69:45.
The Tigers had an extended stay in the back 30 without a shot, before the Panthers countered quickly. Negron patiently waited for an opening before scoring to make it 4-2 with 8:27 left in the game.
Millington put the final goal in the book with 25 seconds remaining.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Each of Platt Tech’s Jaelynn Mitchell’s two goals put her team in front. She scored for a 1-0 lead and then broke a 1-1 tie in the second half with her 14th goal of the season.
“This means a lot to me, and my coach, my family. It means a lot to all of us. For the third time in a championship, is really a blessing. I’m really excited to go to championships.” — Platt Tech’s Jaelynn Mitchell
PLATT TECH 5, BULLARD-HAVENS 2
BULLARD-HAVENS 1 1 — 2
PLATT TECH 1 4 — 5
Goals: Bullard-Havens — Gina Baculima, Tiajah Coles; Platt Tech — Jaelynn Mitchell (2), Jennifer Almeda, Kirializ Negron, Mina Millington. Saves: Bullard-Havens – Mexly Montes (11 saves); Platt Tech —Kim Chiroy (6 saves). Records: Bullard-Havens (11-3-3); Platt Tech (13-2-2)