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.
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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)