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Article Published November 10, 2019

H-K Girls’ Soccer Edges Out Valley to Claim Shoreline Crown

By By Peter Vander Veer

The Haddam-Killingworth girls’ soccer team has turned things around emphatically this year. After winning just four games last season, the Cougars can proudly call themselves Shoreline Conference champions. H-K achieved that feat when the team posted a 3-2 victory over Valley Regional in the Shoreline Conference Tournament final at the Indian River Complex in Clinton on Nov. 8. The Cougars have an overall record of 14-4-1 as they get ready to play in the Class M State Tournament this week.

H-K grabbed a 2-0 lead over Valley, but the Warriors came back with two goals to tie the score. In the 55th minute, sophomore Yumi Imai netted a goal to give the Cougars a 3-2 lead that they would not relinquish. Imai slipped by a Valley defender for a breakaway and chipped the ball high over the head of the Warriors’ goalie. The ball took one bounce and went into the net.

“Once I saw her come off her line, I figured it was time to do something,” said Imai.

Junior Autumn Walton and sophomore Hadley Commerford scored the other goals for H-K in the win. Juniors Morgan Madore and Kedarjah Lewis each had an assist.

Lewis and Imai have been a great 1-2 punch on the offensive end for the Cougars all season. Lewis has 19 goals on the year, and Imai has scored 17 goals.

“This is thrilling,” Lewis said. “We feed off of each other. Yumi kept going and going. She gave her team everything she had. That’s why I love playing with her.”

Sophomore goalie Sophia Torello made several clutch saves down the stretch to preserve the victory for Head Coach Mike Shea’s squad. Shea, who is in first year as the Cougars’ coach, was proud of his team coming out on top in a back-and-forth battle with Valley.

“We had retaken the lead, but I knew it was far from over. Still, I had enormous confidence in these kids,” said Shea. “We didn’t lose a preseason game. Their confidence level grew with each win. When we beat Valley 6-3 on Sept. 23, I thought that we had reached a level where we could beat anyone.”

The 3rd-seeded Cougars took a quick 1-0 lead over No. 4 seed Valley in the Shoreline final. Walton headed home a corner kick from Madore to put H-K up after only 47 seconds had ticked off the clock. H-K netted its second goal in the 10th minute when Lewis set up Commerford, who slid the ball in to make it 2-0.

Ava Duval scored for Valley with 2:37 left in the first half to cut the deficit to 2-1. The Warriors tied the game at 2-2 on a goal by Ellie Cost about five minutes into the second half. Ten minutes later, Imai scored to give H-K the lead for good.

Torello didn’t have to make any saves during the first half. She made six saves in the second half, including one on a shot by Duval late in the game, to help the Cougars walk off the field with the Shoreline Conference title in their grasp.

“It’s really wonderful for the seniors who have waited three years for a moment like this,” Lewis said. “It’s amazing that we did this and turned the program around in one year.”

H-K had advanced to the Shoreline Conference championship game by winning its first two contests of the tournament. In the quarterfinals, the Cougars notched a 6-5 victory against No. 6 seed Cromwell on Nov. 2, highlighted by a four-goal performance from Lewis. In the semis, H-K defeated Old Lyme by a 2-1 score on Nov. 6 with Imai scoring both goals for the Cougars.

H-K is the No. 11 seed in the Class M State Tournament and started off the draw by hosting No. 22 Waterford for a first-round game on Nov. 12 (after press time). With a win, the Cougars would face the winner of No. 6 Lewis Mills and No. 27 North Branford in the second round at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14. The quarterfinals are on Saturday, Nov. 16; the semifinals take place on either Tuesday, Nov. 19 or Wednesday, Nov. 20; and final will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23.

The Haddam-Killingworth girls’ soccer squad’s roster includes senior captain Ashley Duncanson, senior Rebecca Fisher, junior captain Kaitlyn Parri, juniors Sophie Gromala, Kedarjah Lewis, Morgan Schultz, Makiya Laurenza, Morgan Madore, Jill Henry, Michaela Savastra, Mia Rubino, Mai-Ly Criscuolo, and Kelsey Lonergan; sophomores Rhianna Phipps, Yumi Imai, Leah Sosnowski, Hadley Commerford, Ly-Linh Criscuolo, Scarlett Strom, Sierra Hajek, and Sophia Torello; and freshmen Caroline Conte, Julia Favalora, and Leah Chester.