Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Sports

Branford Sting Rallies for Victory Over North Haven

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Isla Lionetti netted six goals when the Branford Sting girls’ lacrosse team rallied for a 14-7 victory over North Haven in Dream League action on July 29. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

Isla Lionetti netted six goals when the Branford Sting girls’ lacrosse team rallied for a 14-7 victory over North Haven in Dream League action on July 29. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

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Karly King and the Sting scored all eight goals of the second half when they defeated the North Haven Warriors by a 14-7 score in a recent Dream League matchup. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

Karly King and the Sting scored all eight goals of the second half when they defeated the North Haven Warriors by a 14-7 score in a recent Dream League matchup. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

The Branford Sting girls’ lacrosse team was down by four goals with two minutes left until halftime when it hosted the North Haven Warriors for a Dream League game on July 29. Branford began to mount a comeback in the final minutes of the half, scoring three goals to trim the deficit to one heading into the break. As the Sting looked to carry their momentum into the second half, Head Coach Billy Alessi spoke to his team and encouraged his athletes to find their purpose on the field.

“It took a while to get into the groove of things and buckle down a little bit, but we had to find our purpose and remember why we are here,” said Alessi. “I know we were playing to have fun and gain our season back, but we’re here to win.”

Branford went on to score eight unanswered goals in the second half to earn a 14-7 victory over North Haven in the Dream League North Division matchup. The Sting improved their overall record to 3-3 and moved to 3-2 in the division by defeating North Haven.

Midfielder Isla Lionetti led the Sting in scoring with six goals and two assists in the win. Brianna Shaw had four goals with two assists, and fellow midfielder Karly King scored two goals to go with a pair of assists for Coach Alessi’s squad.

“Our three midfielders have been kind of carrying us scoring-wise throughout the whole season. It starts from their defensive play, their draw play, and the transition game,” Alessi said. “A lot of those goals came right off of fast breaks that they created themselves. They won the draw and kind of just went right down, or we made a good defensive stand and they were able to take it in transition. Those three midfielders are really fast and used that speed to beat everyone down the field.”

Nicola Colossale had two assists for the Sting, while Olivia Vitale and Hailey Brunner added one goal apiece in the victory. Brooke O’Leary played the first half in goal and made five saves for Branford. Ellie Galdenzi came in to play net for the second half and blanked North Haven, stopping four shots in the process.

The Sting have been using a two-goalie system throughout the season with O’Leary playing the first half of games and Galdenzi playing the second half. O’Leary would have been the goalie for the Branford Hornets’ girls’ lacrosse team as a senior had the high school season been played this spring. Galdenzi recently finished her freshman year at Branford. Coach Alessi said that he’s using the Dream League as an opportunity to give O’Leary the senior season she never had, while allowing Galdenzi to prepare for her sophomore campaign with the Hornets.

After Branford struggled in the first half against North Haven, Coach Alessi was impressed with his club’s ability to battle back and come away with its third victory of the season. Alessi said the Sting did a better job of controlling the draws and played with the right mindset throughout the second half.

“Draws have kind of been our Achilles’ heel since [the high school season] last year. Our girls started communicating better when they got to the draw,” said Alessi. “But these girls just started wanting it more. Their mindsets changed, as well. Ultimately, draws are 50/50 balls. It was more about their effort and getting into it. They really wanted to get the win.”

The Sting have only been able to hold four practices due to their home field being unavailable. However, even with a lack of practice time, Coach Alessi has been pleased with the way Branford is communicating on the field and feels that’s one of the team’s biggest strengths.

“They know where to be on the field and how to help each other out. If these girls don’t communicate with one another, we are in trouble,” Alessi said. “Them understanding the importance of communication and teamwork is really what we have to rely on. Now more than ever, they realize how important it is. We don’t have time to get on the same page. We have to be there now.”

Branford has a game against Madison this week and will then conclude the regular season by facing North Haven for its Senior Night contest on Saturday, Aug. 8. Coach Alessi felt that last week’s win versus North Haven showed what his team is capable of and was happy to see Branford rally in the second half, saying that, “if you play a full game, usually good things happen.” As his team hits the home stretch, Alessi wants the Sting to use that victory a building block for a strong finish to the year.

“I want to be right where we ended last game. I don’t want any more hiccups along the way. I don’t want any more bumps in the road, and I don’t want to have to tell them to wake up,” Alessi said. “I want them to learn from that first half, and I want them to realize that when they put their mind to something, they’re capable of something great.”


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