East Hampton >> Even though the Portland girls soccer teams isn’t scoring goals at the rate they were expected to, they are still winning games.
It was Senior Night in East Hampton and as the lights turned on, so did the Highlanders, who defeated the Bellringers 2-0 in front of one of the largest crowds of the season.
The East Hampton defense has been tough to score on all year and they showed why early, not allowing a goal for the first 33 minutes and 47 seconds before Portland finally broke through.
Portland sophomore AnnaRose Zampano, who had taken a number of shots early, found a loose ball inside the East Hampton goal box and buried it into the back of the net.
The Bellringers’ best opportunity in the first half came with 2:50 remaining when sophomore Natalie Dash found a streaking teammate inside the box, but couldn’t put it away.
The East Hampton defense was not bad, the Portland offense was just better.
“We’re probably about 20 goals behind where we were last year,” said Portland coach Sandy Booth. “We’re getting great shots, but we’re not putting the ball on the net.”
Portland controlled the ball a little more in the second half, but still had problems finishing. The Highlanders hit the crossbar three times in the game and had a number of other shots sail over the net.
At 9:37, Portland put the game away for good.
“It was a corner, a big jam up and [Emilie Hernandez] put her head on it and got enough of a nudge to push it across,” saidd Booth.
Hernandez and the rest of the Portland defense has had to step up over the last few weeks, while the offense tries to find its rhythm. Portland has posted shutout wins in six of their last nine games.
“We had to rely on our defense and our athleticism to get us through these games,” said Booth.
It’s been a tough stretch for the Bellringers over the last three weeks. East Hampton has gone 0-5-1 since win against Coginchaug on Sept. 30. The Bellringers, however, are still gearing up for a Shoreline tournament run.
“It’s been a little rough, we have to find a way to score some more goals, that’s the bottom line,” said East Hampton coach Glen Gustine.
As Portland heads into the conference tournament next week as one of the top seeds, they will face Haddam-Killingworth at home. The Cougars beat Portland, 2-1, in Higganum early this season.
“The seniors, that was their goal, to get into the Shoreline tournament and get back into the class S [tournament] again and we’ve done it,” said Booth.