This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published November 4, 2018
For the first time since 2003, the Morgan girls’ soccer team is proudly wearing the Shoreline Conference crown. The Huskies accomplished that feat by earning a 2-1 victory over Cromwell in the championship game of the Shoreline Conference Tournament on a blustery day at the Indian River Complex in Clinton on Nov. 3. Morgan, which had reached the final by notching a 2-1 semifinal win against East Hampton, now has an overall record of 14-1-3 as the team gets ready to play in states.
The Huskies were bolstered by goals from senior captain forward Alyssa LeMay and sophomore forward Carley Schmidt when they beat Cromwell to take the Shoreline title. Senior goalie Rebecca Cockley made five saves to help Morgan emerge victorious. One of the most important plays of the game came in the final seconds, when junior Alyssa Smith blocked a Cromwell shot in front of the Huskies’ goal line to preserve their one-goal advantage as the final whistle blew.
Smith was ecstatic that Morgan came away with the victory and felt it was icing on the cake that she made that big stop in such a critical moment. With only seven seconds left in the game, Cromwell took a corner kick that went to the front of the net and, amidst a flurry of activity, Smith blocked the potential game-tying goal that would have sent it to overtime.
“I knew it would be the last play. The corner came in, and it was bouncing around off of people. I saw it develop, and I was slowly moving over to back up the keeper. Then, it was just muscle memory keeping the ball out of the net,” said Smith. “The ball hit me in the stomach, and I somehow managed to save it. I was in complete shock. When my team came out, it was just an amazing feeling. Everyone thought it went in, then everyone started freaking out.”
The road to the title proved a long one for Morgan, which lost to eventual champion North Branford in the semifinals of last year’s Shoreline Conference Tournament. This year, the Huskies took a big leap by making it all the way to final and winning the championship. Head Coach Steve Sullivan said that he and his coaches planned on getting Morgan to this plateau from the first day of the campaign.
“We talked about that from the beginning of the year. Always trying to improve from the last year. Everything, we’re going to be a step better,” said Sullivan, whose team had split its two regular-season meetings against Cromwell. “We got knocked out in the semis of the Shorelines last year. We wanted to better that. We came away after our regular season with a better record this year. So, everything is just a step up.”
Morgan and Cromwell played a fairly even match that saw Huskies grab an early advantage on an unassisted goal from LeMay at the 7:40 mark in the first half. The Panthers netted a goal with two minutes remaining in the opening stanza to tie the game at 1-1, which was how it stood at halftime. With 20 minutes left in the contest, Morgan took a 2-1 lead when Schmidt booted the ball into the net off an assist from Maddie Stopkoski.
Senior captain Erin Lindsay credited Morgan’s victory to the fact that the Huskies have come together as a squad and outworked their opponents this season. Lindsay said that Morgan’s concrete camaraderie propelled the team to the Shoreline crown.
“We had to keep working hard. It came down to who was going to put the most effort in and who wanted it the most. That ended up being us,” said Lindsay, who filled in on defense in the final after playing midfield throughout the season. “One of the best things about our team is our chemistry. We play for one another, and that’s why we were able to pull out this win today. It wasn’t about us individually. It was about us as a team, and we were the stronger team in that sense.”
Coach Sullivan feels proud of his Huskies for what they’ve been able to achieve thus far this season. While this is only Sullivan’s second campaign as Morgan’s head coach, he’s coached many of these athletes for several years. Sullivan believes that winning a conference championship was inevitable considering how much the Huskies have improved.
“I’ve been coaching these kids since 7th grade in the youth program. I’ve known them for a long time,” said Sullivan. “We’ve been looking to this day. We knew we had the potential to do it with this talent and these kids.”
Earlier in the week, Morgan solidified its spot in the Shoreline final by posting a 2-1 win over No. 4 seed East Hampton in the semifinal round at the Indian River Complex on Nov. 1. Morgan took a 1-0 lead when LeMay scored on an assist by Smith in the 30th minute. East Hampton evened the score by scoring a goal 17 minutes into the second half. With just five minutes left in the game, Issy Ranaudo scored the go-ahead goal off another helper from Smith to lift the Huskies to the one-goal win. Cockley stopped four shots for Morgan in the contest.
Morgan now sets its sights on competing in the Class M State Tournament this week. The 5th-seeded Huskies are hosting No. 28 seed Waterford in a first-round match at the Indian River Complex on Monday, Nov. 5. A win there would send the Huskies to second round to play the winner of No. 12 seed North Branford and 21st-seeded Law on Wednesday Nov. 7. The quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 9; the semis take place on either Tuesday, Nov. 13 or Wednesday, Nov. 14; and the championship game is on Saturday, Nov. 17.
LeMay believes that big things can happen for the Huskies in states as long as they continue to play their game.
“It’s important to keep the pressure up. This was our goal for the past four years. We wanted to be here. We put in the time and effort through team building and practice,” said LeMay. “Now, we’re all excited and looking forward for another long run in states.”
From the Sidelines
The Morgan girls’ soccer team’s roster includes senior captains Alyssa LeMay and Erin Lindsay; fellow seniors Chloe Bousquet, Kylee Clifton, Rebecca Cockley, Madison Emmi, Rachel Flanagan, Issy Ranaudo, Grace Roman, and Joelle Vuillieumier; juniors Alena Curtis, Maura Kelly, Natalie Novarro, Annalysse Olcott, Alyssa Smith, Madeline Stopkoski, Olivia Swan, and Taylor Wyatt; sophomores Madison Corgan, Caitlyn Donadio, Clara Franzoni, Emma Lindsay, Genna Rauccio, Olivia Riccio, and Carley Schmidt; and freshmen Jessica Flannagan and Taylor Maher.
Huskies’ Head Coach Steve Sullivan is assisted by Jessica Choronzy and Bill Lindsay.
Morgan’s wins during the regular season came against Coginchaug (3-0), Hale-Ray (7-0), Old Saybrook (1-0 and 2-0), Haddam-Killingworth (3-0), Westbrook (5-0), North Branford (2-0), Portland (2-0), Valley Regional (3-1), Cromwell (2-1), Old Lyme (1-0), and East Lyme (1-0).