GHS senior Gianna Angelillo controls the ball during the Guardians 3-1 over Northwest Catholic. Angelillo, who will play collegiately at the University of Miami, scored a goal in the win.
Glastonbury High School girls’ soccer waited out Mother Nature and then rallied to defeat Northwest Catholic 3-1 under the bright lights at GHS on Sept. 13.
With the game scoreless at the half, lightning delayed the return to action by nearly an hour. Once the players finally took the field, the Central Connecticut Conference-West rivals created some lightning of their own.
The visiting Lions struck first when sophomore Olivia Knorr found the back early in the second half.
Eight minutes later, Glastonbury senior Riley Carroll scored the equalizer, firing a shot to the right corner of the net after receiving a header from Kathryn Matson.
Carroll said the halftime delay reenergized the team’s offense, which was stagnant in the first half.
“We talked about what we could do better. Our coaches were great, they were telling us what we could do to improve and it really motivated us,” said Carroll, who added that the atmosphere made the win even more rewarding. “Playing under the light is the best feeling. There is a lot of energy.”
GHS head coach Mark Landers said the team didn’t practice well the previous day and it bled over into the early stages of the game.
“Not having that mentality hurt us. Northwest Catholic is a very good team,” added Landers, who dug into his bench early and often over the final 40 minutes. “We were able to sub a little bit more. Our bench was a little deeper and I think that is what eventually won out.”
Emily Smith had a chance to give the Guardians the lead with 17 minutes left but her shot was deflected. Five minutes later, Angela Chavez broke the tie with an assist from Smith.
Gianna Angelillo scored an issuance goal after shaking a pair of Northwest defenders before finding the back of the net with 3:50 left in regulation.
For the second straight game, goalie Marla Radikas was stellar in goal. With the game tied at 1, the junior keeper had a key save with 13:35 left in regulation and less than a minute later Chavez scored the go-ahead goal. Radikas was coming off a shutout of Conard (4-0) in the team first game on Sept. 8.
Radikas, along with reserve freshman Faith-Anne Grunwald, will be the team’s net minders this season. Protecting the back end is a deep, experienced defense led by seniors Anna Shaheen, Mackenzie Landers and Carleigh Sullivan. Sophomore
Madison Handrahan also shined in the win, clearing multiple Northwest attack attempts.
Carroll and Alayna Taylor were the captains for the home win. But with a dozen seniors, Lander’s on-field leadership can come from a variety of sources and he will go with a rotating captain’s chair this fall.
“We are captains by committee right now. We all want to be able to lead each other and be as close to a family as we can,” added Landers. “It is showing up in the locker room and it’s showing out on the field. We stayed composed even when we got down.”
Along with an abundance of depth, talent is also plentiful with three players already committed to collegiate soccer. Taylor (University of Connecticut), Angelillo (University of Miami) and Kelsey Landers (Iona University) will all be playing at the Division I level next fall.
Carroll said there is a positive energy surrounding the team, adding, “We are so excited for our season. It’s only the beginning. There is such a good connection between all the teammates.”
Landers, who spent the previous 20 years coaching the boys’ program to eight state championships, is in his second season leading the girls’ program. During his first season last fall, the Guardians won a conference title before losing in the opening round of the state tourney.
On Sept. 15, the Guardians settled to a 2-2 tie at Newington, finishing up the week with a record of 2-0-1.
They have another game under the lights of GHS tonight (Thursday, Sept. 22) as they welcome Southington to the tuft at 6 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin