Both the Wethersfield and Rocky Hill girls’ soccer teams refused to lose and both squads left it all out on the field last Tuesday night. The result was a double-overtime scoreless tie following 90 minutes of back and forth action at McVicar Field.
Each team had chances to break the tie in regulation and in the extra sessions, but swarming defenses and fantastic goalie play foiled each and every attempt.
Wethersfield goalie Megan Keleher faced a lot of pressure, especially over the first 40 minutes, but the junior keeper stood her ground against the attacking nature of the Terriers.
Keleher’s most impressive save of the night came in the waning seconds of regulation when Rocky Hill’s Bella Montalvo broke free and raced towards the goal, but Keleher sprinted out of the goalie box and made a sliding kick save.
Montalvo’s shot didn’t find the back of the net, but it wasn’t because to a lack of effort. The sophomore, who is coming off an all-conference selection as a freshman, never stopped moving and ran what seemed like a marathon on Tuesday night.
“It’s in their blood. Her mother was the same way and the whole family is non-stop. They have it in their heart,” Rocky Hill head coach Annmarie Catania said about the Montalvo family, who have a rich bloodline of athletic excellence in Rocky Hill, “You can’t teach that never give up attitude. It just has to come to you and she has it.”
Junior Annie White is also coming off an all-conference season and has taken her game to a new level this fall. She nearly netted a penalty kick in the second half, but the shot was a tad high, and she also had a handful of perfectly placed corner kicks, including one late in the second overtime session.
The Terriers were unable to capitalize on the opportunities, but it showed that it’s just a matter of time before White and her offensive mates turn those near misses into points.
“Annie is the engine of the team. She keeps going and she makes the play before the play happens,” Catania said of White, “She also goes non-stop.”
Rocky Hill’s offense was unable to generate any points, but their defense held an opponent scoreless for the second time in as many games.
Goalie Samantha Steinman made several saves, including three in a four minute span in the second half.
“Her confidence is much better this year,” Catania said of her senior goaltender, “That’s very important for a keeper. If you have your confidence, the game comes to you.”
Steinman also blanked Newington in the season opener, a 1-0 double overtime victory. Montalvo scored the game’s only goal with 40 second left in the ‘do-or-tie’ frame.
“I think it absolutely helps,” Catania said of playing extra minutes early in the season, “It gets us ready for tournament time too. You might as well get it over with. We went to overtime in the first game and the second time isn’t as scary.”
Steinman shares the captain duties with fellow seniors Marisa Anderson, Abigail Stock and Grace Moore, who is the vocal and emotional leader for the Terriers.
The defense has received an additional boost from junior Emma Molloy, who Catania said has made the biggest leap in production from the end of last season until now.
“Emma has been phenomenal. She’s in the back on defense and her skill level has raised unbelievably.”
On the other side of the field, the Eagles have a lot of new faces after losing three all-conference players to graduation.
Chloe Troy, Kendall Cathcart, and Jane Rumley are sharing the captain responsibilities in Wethersfield.
Rumley had a chance to break the tie in the second half and in the first overtime, but both shots just missed the mark.
Alexis Szymecki and freshman Madison Righi also had opportunities on the offensive end and Righi is one of a handful of freshman getting valuable playing time this season. Fellow freshmen Sierra Judson and Gabi Villagra shined on the defensive end, preventing the Terriers from easy looks at the net.
The young Eagles opened the season at home, cruising to a 7-0 home victory over New Britain, and ended the week with a narrow 2-1 loss to RHAM at Cottone Field last Friday.
The Terriers closed the week with a 2-0 loss to East Catholic last Friday.
Despite Friday’s losses, the arrow is pointing up for both local teams.
“It’s a great group of girls. They are all working together and they’re passionate about the game. They all have the same goals and they’re working together as a team,” added Catania, who would like to see certain areas improve as the year progresses, “We have to work on our communication and our passing. They have to get their confidence when they’re under pressure and continuing to play with control. We have kinks and we have little wrinkles that we’ll iron out, but it’s going to be a great season. I’m looking forward to it.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin