GHS sophomore Brynn Barbieri readies to fire a shot on goal during the Guardians home open on Sept. 12.
It wasn’t the result, or effort, that head coach Mark Landers envisioned, yet the Glastonbury High School girls soccer team managed to tie Hall (0-0) last Tuesday at GHS.
The scoreless stalemate in the Guardians’ home opener came on the heels of a 5-1 loss to St. Joseph in Trumbull to open the season on Sept. 9.
“Pretty disappointed in our intensity after coming off a big game Saturday against St. Joes, in which we worked really hard. Our effort was there on Saturday –– we just got dominated by a really good team,” stated Landers. “Today we just didn’t really bring a lot to the table. Not sure if that game took a lot out of us or what, but we have a lot of work to do.”
The Guardians possessed the ball for a majority of the game, particularly in the second half when they had a handful of opportunities to break the game open.
But each and every time, Hall’s senior goalie Gabriella Deslauriers rose to the occasion.
Two minutes into the second half, Corey Anderson — a returning all-state junior — fired a long distance shot, which Deslauriers jumped to save. Deslauriers then made saves on shots from Emily Smith and Angela Chavez.
Glastonbury’s best scoring opportunity came in the 58th minute when Chloe Mastrangelo fed Anderson in transition, but again Deslauriers deflected the shot.
“We [put together] three or four passes, but it was the same thing like the other day when we couldn't find the penetrating pass to get behind and get a good shot on goal,” stated Landers, who has eight sophomores and five freshmen in his rotation. “We are young and technically we just aren’t there right now.”
With five minutes left in regulation, Deslauriers once again turned away a scoring threat when Anderson set up Audrey O’Hare.
On the other side of the field, the Guardians were just as impressive defensively behind sophomore goalie Faith-Anne Grunwald.
In the 56th minute, Grunwald had a highlight-reel save when she thwarted a breakaway shot from Hall senior Sally Kritzman. Kritzman had gotten behind the Guardians defense and Grunwald ran out to make a sliding, ending Hall’s best threat.
Helping protect the backend with Grunwald is a stout defense led by senior Caleigh Sullivan and junior Maddy Handrahan. Sophomores Brynn Barbieri and Avery Tabellione, along with junior Celina Rodriguez, are also making impacts on that end.
Sullivan prevented a shot on goal in the first half by sacrificing her body to stop a scoring opportunity for Hall.
Landers said that Sullivan displays “energy, enthusiasm, and toughness on the field every single day.”
With three minutes left in regulation, Tabellione helped preserve the shutout when she stuck her leg out to send a shot wayward.
Landers added that he was impressed with his defensive unit, which will be an area of strength for the team while the offense works on manufacturing goals.
The veteran coach is looking to replace an influential senior class from a year ago that included a half dozen players who are currently on college rosters.
After winning a conference title and advancing to the state semifinals last fall, Landers said the young team is trying to plug in the pieces on the fly.
“We have a lot of work to do and learning to do,” stated Landers. “We have room to grow everywhere and we’ll work at it and keep going and try and get better.”
Two days later, Landers’ squad responded with a 4-0 win over Conard in West Hartford, earning the Guardians win No. 1 this fall.
Next up is a road test at Wethersfield on Saturday, Sept. 23 in a rematch of last season’s Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) title match. The conference tilt starts at 6 p.m.
The team will return home for a game under the lights when they welcome Farmington to the turf on Friday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin