Glastonbury High School soccer starters (from left) Hailey Moriarty, Gianna Angelillo, and Alayna Taylor walk off the field at halftime during the Guardians dramatic victory over Danbury in the second round of the Class LL tournament.
In what was a physical and emotionally charged game, the girls’ soccer team at Glastonbury High School defeated Danbury on penalty kicks 3-2 (PK: 4-3) in the second round of the Class LL tournament on Nov. 10.
The Guardians scored a pair of goals in the first half, courtesy of seniors Gianna Angelillo and Riley Carroll, before Danbury stormed back in the second half to even it up and send it into overtime.
Following 100 minutes of game action, inducing a pair of 10 minute overtime periods, Glastonbury moved to the quarterfinals on penalty kicks by making four of five shots with Danbury capitalizing on only three..
“One thing we talk about is that success is on the other side of adversity,” GHS head coach Mark Landers said. “It was up to us if we wanted to face that adversity and get to the other side.”
Angelillo, Angela Chavez, and Anna Sheehan each made penalty kicks, setting the stage for sophomore Corey Anderson to play the hero. Anderson buried the game-clincher before her teammates mobbed her on the field to celebrate.
“I am so proud of Corey, I love her. She is an amazing player,” Angelillo said of Anderson.
Angelillo stated that the coaching staff reminded the five shooters to remain “calm, cool, and collected” before they went out for the crucial penalty kick, adding, “We were just worried about getting that ball in the back of the net and tuning out everything else around us.”
Prior to Anderson’s game-winner, Glastonbury’s junior keeper Marla Radikas stood strong on Danbury’s five penalty kicks, gobbling up an attempt by captain Mya Pellicone and watching as Nayeli Guzman’s shot went high.
“Marla has been great in goals on PKs and we knew she would give us a chance,” said Landers, who added that he had confidence that Anderson would finish the final penalty kick.
“She is just so composed and so cool and calm of the ball,” Landers said of Anderson. “She loves to play soccer and is a great kid.”
Anderson’s blast ended what was an entertaining battle between the two teams.
Glastonbury, the No. 4 ranked team in the tourney, was coming off a first round bye and Danbury entered as the No. 15 ranked team. The Hatters were coming off a 4-0 shutout of Manchester in the opening round and Landers wasn’t sure how his team would respond following six days without a game.
“Sometimes the first win of the tournament is the hardest one to get,” added Landers. “Anybody from Fairfield County is going to be tough. We know what kind of conference they play in and the battles they had.”
From the opening whistle the game was chippy with Angelillo and Pellicone mixing it up within the first minute.
Angellilo opened the scoring by blasting a lefty kick past Danbury’s keeper Mali Neperman in the 14th minute.
Sixteen minutes later, Carroll scored on a header after getting a perfectly placed cross from Alayna Taylor.
Carroll nearly gave the home team a three-goal advantage but her rocket shot ricocheted off the crossbar seven minutes into the second half.
Glastonbury had several chances in the second half to add a third goal, yet all the attempts were off the mark or saved by Neperman, opening the window for a Danbury rally.
Danbury’s Sophia Renteria scored a header in the 57th minute and then Caroline Dickson tied the match with 5:16 remaining in regulation.
Heading into two overtime periods and eventually in the penalty kicks, Angelillo said the seniors talked about the importance of finishing what they started on their home field.
“We are a team and we just had to work together and be a family,” added Angelillo.
Two days later, the Guardians advanced to the Class LL semifinals with a 1-0 victory over Fairfield-Warde.
Playing in their final game at GHS, it was a pair of seniors that combined for the game’s only goal when Carroll headed in a deep free kick from Shaheen with two minutes left in the game.
Radikas preserved the shutout with spectacular saves, featuring a diving save on the ground that she knocked over the crossbar and another on a one-on-one shot in the box.
Including the postseason, the win over Fairfield-Warde was the Guardians’ 15th victory this fall.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin