HAMDEN — While most fall sports teams began play last week, the Sacred Heart Academy girls soccer team had to wait six extra days. That wait was well worth it.
Behind three goals from junior Paige Johnson, a pair of goals from fellow junior Ella Guth, and one goal and two assists from sophomore Anne Plunkett, Sacred Heart Academy opened the 2020 season with a 7-1 victory over Lyman Hall Thursday afternoon at Sacred Heart.
“This is a great way to start,” Sacred Heart Academy coach Robert Silvestri said. “The kids are off from school on Wednesday with the distance learning. We tried to get a practice in last night and we got a little in before the thunder. The kids may have been nervous and had some jitters early, but we pulled together really well as a team.”
For the Sharks, it was a case of creating numerous scoring opportunities throughout, while Lyman Hall struggled to keep up with the pace of the Sharks.
“I have a starting ten and no bench,” Lyman Hall coach Tony Crane said. “We have two teams with 22 kids. We have a lot of very inexperienced kids.”
Sacred Heart Academy needed just 4 minutes, 38 seconds to start the scoring in the 2020 campaign when Johnson took control off a steal, worked her way in on the left side, and beat Lyman Hall goalkeeper Marissa Newman to the lower right corner for a 1-0 lead.
After Rosa Rizzitelli and Guth missed golden opportunities for Sacred Heart Academy, Lyman Hall evened the contest off a scramble in front when sophomore Callie Casulla found the back of the net 14:44 into the contest.
“The kids are happy to be playing again,” Crane said. “They love it. We got that goal and were right back in it. Then they scored, and it looked as if there was a hand ball where we would have gotten a penalty kick. We didn’t get the call where it could have made it 3-2, and they come back and score to go up 4-1. That was a big part of the game.”
That was a close as the Trojans would get as Plunkett scored less than eight minutes later when she went in untouched and deked before a nice touch into the net.
“We play really well together,” Plunkett said. “We play over the summer together. It is nice to get back out here and get the win in our first game back.”
With the game still within reach, the Sharks made sure the opening game leaned in their favor. Scoring three times in a five minute span over the first 14 minutes of the second half, Sacred Heart never looked back as the pressure of the Sharks wore down the Trojans.
Johnson scored off an assist from Rizzitelli 7:26 in, and just 4:55 later, Guth scored off a sharp angle for a 4-1 advantage. Guth was at it again 28 seconds later when she took a feed from Maisie Moreland, deked and slid a shot in for a four-goal lead.
“I am absolutely happy with the start,” Silvestri said. “We have a game tomorrow and we will see where we go from here.”
Silvestri had a chance to empty his bench throughout the second half and he was rewarded as fresh bodies were continuously on the field. Johnson scored her third of the game off an assist from Plunkett, before freshman Jocelyn Kingsley took a nice touch pass from Plunkett and curled a shot to the back of the net with 10:48 left for a 7-1 lead.
“It was good to get those goals as it gave us a cushion,” Plunkett said. “It is good we had a lot of different people contributing. Last year, we had two freshmen, and this year we have more and they are so skilled. It is nice to see that.”