SHELTON — In the two games played in the regular season this year between Shelton and Foran, the Lions used a late goal to tie in the initial meeting, while Shelton needed three goals in less than four minutes late in the second contest to pull out the victory.
Looking to avoid any drama, the Gaels were ready to go from the start Thursday evening. Behind three goals from senior Noelle Garretson, including the first under two minutes in, top-seeded Shelton rolled to a 5-0 victory over third-seeded Foran in the Southern Connecticut Conference Division C final at Finn Stadium in Shelton.
For Garretson and her senior class, the title-clinching contest was a reward for four years of family and hard work.
“I have been telling people before, me and the seniors have been playing together for eight years,” Garretson said. “They are my family. They have helped get through this tough season.”
In what was an odd year for every team in the state, the Gaels continued to live up to the billing of one of the best teams in the area. Their goals never changed and the Gaels may have been at their best in the final week.
“We just said to the girls we wanted to get everything we could possibly get,” Shelton coach Marvin Miller said. “We measure our standards by how we play. If we play by our standards, the titles will come with them. We played our best soccer at the end of the season. That is what every team wants to do.”
Garretson lived up to the billing as one of the best players in the area when she scored early and often, while dominating play. The Shelton senior continually worked well with fellow senior teammate Elizabeth Porto as Porto finished with three assists in the contest.
“Noelle is one of the best two or three players in the conference,” Miller said of Garretson. “She has been great the whole year. As good as she is, these seniors have been great. Liz Porto has been delivering the balls from the outside. Liz probably has assists on half of our goals. It is a great senior class.”
Foran was in chase mode from the start as Garretson took a feed from Kayleigh Bartlett, then deked and dribbled past Foran goalkeeper Hanna Della Bitta-Falkowski for a 1-0 advantage 1 minute, 26 seconds into the contest.
Just 3:20 later, Shelton was on its way to another title as Bartlett took a feed in front from Porto off a corner kick and found the back of the goal for a 2-0 lead.
“I thought we came out a little flat,” Foran coach Casey Blake said. “The weather certainly didn’t help, but they came out guns blazing and kept on going. Give them a lot of credit. We couldn’t find the back of the net.”
The Gaels (10-1-1) controlled play in the rainy opening half, holding an 8-3 shot advantage, and more importantly, a 3-0 lead on the scoreboard after Garretson scored on a breakaway after easily depositing her second of the game.
“It was really big for us to get off to a strong start,” Garretson said. “We have been stressing getting off to a strong starts. This is a big family here. We have learned from the people leaving the program. It is a family year in and year out. We welcome the new girls in and we become a family.”
Things did not get any better for the Lions in the opening half as Della Bitta—Falkowski appeared to injure her hand on a sliding play and was replaced in goal by sophomore Lauren Roth.
Roth needed to make only one save during the remainder of the opening half, but came up big in the second half, turning aside several tough shots, including a point blank breakaway attempt by Garretson with 15:15 remaining.
“We fought for 80 minutes,” Blake said. “The girls never give up. I am proud of these girls. They came every day to practice and worked hard. They were focused and mentally ready every day. We grew as a team. We got better and we had fun doing it.
Garretson eventually recorded the hat trick when she took a feed from Porto and broke in on Roth with 12:31 to go for a 4-0 advantage. Lindsay Taylor capped the scoring with 25.8 seconds remaining off an assist from Porto.
Della Bitta—Falkowski finished with two saves, while Roth had five saves for the Lions. Julia Pulley and Emily Codere each finished with three saves for Shelton.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Noelle Garretson — Shelton senior scored three goals and was a dynamic part of the offense for the Gaels.
“We just said to the girls we wanted to get everything we could possibly get. We measure our standards by how we play. If we play by our standards, the titles will come with them. We played our best soccer at the end of the season. That is what every team wants to do.” — Shelton coach Marvin Miller
SHELTON 5, FORAN 0
FORAN 0 0 — 0 (7-5-1)
SHELTON 3 2 — 5 (10-1-1)
GOALS: S- Garretson 3,Bartlett, Lindsay Taylor. ASSISTS: Bartlett, Porto 3. SAVES: F — Hanna Della Bitta-Falkowski — 2; Lauren Roth — 5. S — Julia Pulley — 3; Emily Codere – 3
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said that it was the SCC Division A championship, but it was the Division C championship.