By Tim Swinarton
HAMDEN, Oct. 11 -- Hamden Hall Country Day School senior captain Lexi Cornacchia bobbed, weaved and dribbled her way through every hole in The Westover School’s defense to lead her team to a 2-1 victory.
When she got the ball, one instinctively knew she was heading to the net.
Cornacchia, a center midfielder, led the charge for Hamden Hall’s shifty offense, scoring both of her team’s two goals. She opened up the scoring with 7:25 left in the first half the of game. After receiving a pass near the center circle she cut and dodged her way through numerous Westover players before rifling a shot just over the keeper’s head.
However, the game started out far slower with Hamden Hall (2-4-2) controlling the field. The Green Hornets fired 10 shots on the Westover keeper but were only able to convert one, all while holding Westover to just one shot on net. Their lone shot was swallowed up by senior goalkeeper Miranda Lannone.
Lannone, despite seeing minimal action in goal, was calm and cool on the field taking up a quarterback role from the net. When she wasn’t chasing down a loose ball or making a pass on a dime, she called out plays, helping her teammates find open holes in the defense -- all traits that most likely contributed to her committing to play for Cornell University next year.
After the half, Hamden Hall came out out stronger, dominating the offensive half of the field.
Hornets coach Chuck Savi said, “We were sloppy in the first half… we were playing to far out wide, there was a lot of room in the midfield and once we started connecting passes with our key three players we really got things going.”
The offensive changes led to a dominant 20 minutes of play with Hamden Hall outshooting Westover, 9-1.
Hamden Hall created more plays, got more balls to the middle and opened up high percentage scoring chances.
Hamden Hall’s second tally came late in the second half on a throw-in from its own defensive end.
Senior outside back Gia DiRubba threw the ball to Cornacchia up the sideline. Cornacchia then ran the ball through the entire Westover team before scoring her second goal of the night.
Like her coach, Cornacchia felt exposing the open space in the middle helped increase the team’s scoring chances.
She said, “We decided to stop trying to look wide because there was so much space in the center, we started playing the ball to our forwards feet and then getting it back to the center… which is why we won.”
Westover’s only goal came late in the second half on a crossing play to Junior midfielder Caroline Broude’.
Broude’ received a pass across the center and snuck it past the Hamden keeper Lannone? as she ran out out of net to attempt to stop the shot. However, the effort came too late with only 13 minutes left in regulation time.
The 2-1 win was a nice present for coach Savi who celebrated his 40th birthday on the sidelines.
“I tried to keep it from the girls. When they asked how old I was turning, I felt like saying 39,” he joked after the game.
Hamden Hall returns to action Saturday, Oct. 14 against the Williams School.
BY HANNAH COTTER
NORTH HAVEN, Oct. 6 -- The brisk October air did not stop a crowd of super fans from supporting its home team at the North Haven Athletics Complex on Monday night, and its morale was high despite the North Haven High Indians suffering a 3-0 loss to the Branford Hornets in a non-conference matchup.
The Indians (5-2-2, 3-1 SCC) started off strong, applying pressure to the Hornets (3-4-2) early on. They kept the ball in the offensive zone in a back-and-forth first half.
The Indians had a close chance with seven minutes left in the half with an empty net, but Branford’s defense stepped in and remained strong throughout the remainder of the game.
“This is our first loss that’s been more than one goal,” North Haven head coach Rocco Christiana said, “and we’ve held in there with all the top teams and only lost by one. We still have a lot of the season left.”
With 2:09 left in the game, North Haven’s Camille Sahirul took a blow to her left knee and slowly collapsed as her team gathered around. Moments before, the junior striker had one of the team’s closest scoring opportunities. The crowd had erupted as she slipped past Branford defenders but shot wide.
Despite the injury, Christiana still feels confident in the team.
“We’ve had a good season. Last year we had quite a few injuries. Our star players last year -- there was always at least two or three of them on the bench,” he said.
“We’ve stayed healthy. We’ve got a deep bench. We’ve got a lot of good quality players and it has kept us in a lot of games.”
Earlier in the second half, Sahirul had another chance to schore but Branford’s goalkeeper, senior Nina Grabowiecki, made an impressive save. It wouldn’t be her last. Grabowiecki made three huge saves in the final minutes, securing her team’s success against a typically high scoring team.
An Alayna Boileau goal late in the first put Branford on the scoreboard to go into the half 1-0. The Hornets scored twice early in the second, but the Indians fought hard into the final seconds of regulation.
“It was a great game,” Christiana said. “I just think Branford did a really good job. They stepped up and they took advantage of our mistakes. That’s just soccer. Sometimes it falls our way and sometimes it falls their way.”
Even as the clock reached the final five seconds, in the sea of red, white and maroon in the bleachers, all eyes were on the field.
“With a great coach and a great staff,” Christiana added, “Branford came to play and they deserved to win.”
The last time the Indians and Hornets met, the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
North Haven sits in first place in the SCC Housatonic standings. Up next, the Indians travel to Wallingford to take on Lyman Hall for another non-conference game at 3:45 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6.
By Mitchell McGowan
HAMDEN, Sept. 29 -- Hamden High School is not playing to its preseason expectations, coach Ken Boucher said before the team's Friday afternoon showdown with Sheehan and the 2-0 non-league loss didn't help get the Green Dragons there, either.
The Green Dragons (1-5) struggled throughout the beginning of the season leading up to their Friday night matchup against the Titans (5-2-1). Sheehan came into the game with its strong defense, which had only allowed four goals so far in the season.
Injuries to some of their key players have slowed Hamden, giving Sheehan the advantage before the game even began.
“We have four starters out, including our starting keeper,” Boucher said, “We got one starter back and lost another one last game, so it’s been really tough being young and losing our starters.”
Sheehan struck quickly, as midfielder Julia Podchaiski broke away for a goal in the seventh minute.
Sheehan played defense well, stopping most of Hamden’s attempts to move the ball down the field. The Titans defense forced Hamden to take unprepared and rushed shots. Players like Hamden’s Katie Vita tried to get a goal on the scoreboard, but the shots all went wide of the net.
Hamden attempted to use the halftime to spark a comeback in the game. Boucher changed Hamden’s strategy mid-game to try to generate more offense.
“Our normal formation is a 4-3-2-1, so I went with a 4-4-2 to try to get something going, but if you don’t possess the ball it just doesn’t make a difference.”
The energy boost did not last long.
Sheehan’s Grace Waldron stole the momentum back in the 41st minute of the game with a goal.
After the loss, Boucher stressed that the team is looking for a drive to score. He hopes to develop a mentality of attacking the net and scoring more goals.
“I am going to nurture and light a fire and find someone who wants to score a goal. We’ve only score four goals all year, and obviously no one is trying to kill themselves to put a ball in the net.”
Hamden hopes to make a comeback this season as they get some of their hurt players back.
“We’re trying to make up for it and get new players ready and in the game,” injured captain Emma Twohill said. "Hopefully, then it will make us stronger when everyone comes back, then everyone will be prepared. It’s been a hurdle, but we’re halfway through the season so for the second half we’re going to come back stronger.”
Hamden is taking the weekend off and will regroup at practice next week. Twohill looks forward to practice to implement and strengthen the team’s chemistry.
“The ideas are there, we just have to work on connecting the passes and executing the ideas because they’re there, it’s just not happening.”
Hamden will play again against Sacred Heart Academy at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Sheehan will face Morgan at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30.
By Cullen Ronan
CHESHIRE, Sept. 27 -- In a chippy battle of non-conference rivals, the visiting Shelton High School Gaelettes walked off the pitch victorious, earning a 3-0 shutout over the Cheshire Rams.
Rams (2-4) head coach James Luis said before Wednesday’s matchup his team had to prepare for a physical game, and that’s exactly what the Gaelettes (6-1-1) brought, driving the ball upfield early and peppering the Rams' defense with scoring chances.
We allowed them to push us around,” Luis said. “Our work rate overall just wasn’t good enough. If we would have worked a little harder, been a little bit more competitive in winning 50-50 balls, we probably would have had a different result.”
The Rams' offense had a number of scoring opportunities in the first half.
Speedy junior midfielder Lila McNamee couldn’t capitalize as she got in close, having three shots sail wide of Shelton goalkeeper Courtney Litts.
Gaelettes senior forward Kelly Hurd attacked the left side often in the first half, but it wasn’t until the second half when Shelton finally scored when junior MacKenzie Joyce rifled her lone shot past the Cheshire keeper on a cross from Hurd.
Shelton coach Marvin Miller said Hurd’s constant offensive pressure is an integral part of the Gaelettes' offensive attack and has been one of the keys to the team's 6-1-1 start this season.
“She fits right into our game strategy,” Miller said. “That’s the way we like to play ... using those fast, outside flank runners.”
Joyce added two assists to her scoresheet when she led sophomore midfielder Haley Oko to a goal, and served as the catalyst to junior midfielder Esabel Rosa’s effortless chip shot with 5:45 remaining.
“She was a monster today, the woman of the match,” Miller said of Joyce. “The game changed when we put her in.”
While Shelton's upperclassmen led the Gaelettes, it was a lack of experience that seemed to hinder the Rams' offensive attack, Luis said.
However, the Rams had a bright spot coming off the bench when freshman forward Katie Welage made her varsity debut. Making the most of her limited minutes, Welage hustled past a tired Gaelettes defense and put together the best scoring opportunities of the game late in the second half for the Rams, missing a chip over the Shelton goalkeeper by mere inches.
“I thought she did really well. She outworked most of the kids on the team,” Luis said. “She will definitely get more opportunities moving forward.”
As the Gaelettes extended their winning streak to six games, Miller believes that his team will have no problem sustaining their early season success.
“We set a high standard of excellence. We train hard in practices. We're already thinking of our next game on Monday,” Miller said. “We know that if we just take each game in stride, we’ll be where we are supposed to be.”
While the scoreboard may not have been in the Rams favor, Luis believes his team can take some positives out of the matchup.
“When things go bad, we can learn from our mistakes, and hopefully that’s what our players will do,” Luis said.
Cheshire travels to Shelton for a rematch at 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 23.
Students in Quinnipiac University's JRN361: Sports Reporting course cover local high school sports competitions. Their work is showcased here.
Banner photo courtesy
Dana Jensen/The Day (2003)