By Andrew Badillo
CHESHIRE--On a night when bitter cold temperatures stung those in the bleachers, the Shelton High School girls soccer team did the same to Cheshire in a 5-1 loss Monday night.
Shelton (7-2-3, 3-1-2 in the Housatonic League) dominated the Rams (4-6-2, 2-3-2) from the opening whistle as it outworked Cheshire in every facet of the game.
“We weren’t winning any 50-50 balls and the attitude was poor in that sense. And, they just ran all over us,” Rams head coach James Luis said.
The Gaels started fast, putting immediate pressure on the Rams defense and goalkeeper Samantha Mathews.
Shelton broke through with its first goal at 23:52 as junior Kylee Opper received a nice through ball and tucked it past Mathews. The Gaels closed out the half with two quick goals in the last four minutes.
Shelton exploited Cheshire’s backline repeatedly, sending balls over the top and in between defenders Lila McNamee and Abigail Abramson.
The Gaels capitalized on two instances in which balls were sent over the top of McNamee as she was unable to recover in time. Luis eventually subbed McNamee out midway through the first half trying to spark to his squad.
Senior defender Samantha Bellina said, “I think it was more we knew how they were going to come out. We’ve played them before and we’ve done well against them. I think coming off of an easy game against Lyman Hall and a loss before that. We just didn’t have the intensity that we needed to win."
That fire was something that Luis tried to instill in his team at halftime. The Rams were down 3-0 without any real goal scoring opportunities. Luis pleaded with his team in the huddle to be more aggressive and play with more effort.
The players didn’t get the message.
Shelton added two more goals as it increased the lead to 5-0, putting the game well out of reach for Cheshire.
“I think, in general, we talked about mentality being a huge thing for the team,” Luis said. “I think we have very talented players. I don’t think they’ve grasped the idea of every team is going to come out harder and hard to beat them.”
The Rams are a young squad and certainly mental lapses come along with an inexperienced bunch, but for Bellina, she feels as if the burden falls on her and the rest of the senior’s shoulders to increase the team’s level of play.
“It’s hard this being my last season. I want it to be a really good one,” Bellina said. “I think it has been, but I’d really like to see improvement and I wish we all kind of worked harder.”
Despite being disappointed with his teams play, Luis believes the Rams are in good position with only three games left before postseason play.
“The ultimate goal is still within grasp, so we’re positive moving forward from here,” Luis said.
The loss drops Cheshire to 2-3-2 in the Housatonic Division.
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)