Even Mother Nature could not stop the West Haven girls soccer team on Senior Night. Despite a weather delay of one hour and 17 minutes, the Westies were able to conclude the regular season with a 1-0 victory over Foran in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision battle at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Tuesday evening.
On a night where the seniors were honored prior to the contest, it was only fitting the West Haven goal came through the work of a pair of senior captains.
Just 6:21 into the contest, a perfect ball from Keegan Riccio found Kelsey Gilmore in stride and Gilmore did the rest. Gilmore broke free and ripped a shot which sailed past Foran goalkeeper Abigail Lucas and bent inside the post for a 1-0 West Haven lead.
“It was really emotional going into the game, knowing it could be our last game here as it looks as if we are going on the road in the state tournament,” Riccio said. “The energy we felt after we scored the goal was amazing.”
Gilmore’s tally was all the West Haven defense and goalkeeper Mackenzie Gardner needed. The defense held the Lions to just one shot in the delayed first half, an angled shot from Yasmina Lingane from 18 yards out, which was easily stopped by the West Haven sophomore keeper.
“Our defense has just been solid all year,” West Haven coach Pete Trenchard said. “It has been very good. We have done a great job limiting other teams to half chances, or shots from far out, which are easy saves. The combination of the defense and how well it has played, then having Mackenzie (Gardner) there to make the save has been great.”
The Westies (6-6-4), who now enter the postseason at .500, had the better of the play in the opening half after the delay which started with 30:30 to go in the half as a result of several lightning strikes and heavy rain.
When the skies cleared and play resumed, West Haven had two golden opportunities to pad the lead, but a shot by Riccio from 21 yards out was turned aside by Lucas, and Alexia Guerrero never got a quality shot off when breaking in with 11:06 to go in the half.
“Ending with a win is huge,” Trenchard said. “It gives us a little momentum going into the postseason. We had a tough schedule, and any win we get, we will take. Foran is a tough team. They play hard and they probably should be in the postseason, but they also have a tough schedule.”
For the Lions (4-10-2), it was the end of a season which saw a two-game winning streak snapped. The campaign saw its share of offensive struggles for the Lions, including a pair of shutout losses against West Haven.
“Offensively, we had trouble all year putting the ball in the back of the net,” Foran coach Casey Blake said. “But, these girls never gave up. They kept working hard. It is sad the season had to end. It would have been nice to play in the postseason. We can use this to build for next year.”
Despite having the lead in the second half, the Westies still put the pressure on, and held the Lions to just one shot in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
Riccio and Gilmore again had opportunities to extend the lead, but rockets by Riccio from 25 yards and 20 yards sailed just wide and over the net. Gilmore had her attempt denied by Lucas from an angle 15 yards out with 23:30 remaining.
Foran had two chances to get the equalizer in the final eight minutes, but could not get a shot on goal off a corner kick, and saw West Haven turn aside Gabriella Muoio’s set piece before it reached the goal with 5:50 to go.
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