Stormy win for St. Luke's soccer
The number on the thermometer was at times lower than the miles per hour the wind was blowing.
It was very cold and very uncomfortable on the campus at St. Luke's Monday afternoon. Fortunately for Hamden Hall and the host team, the FAA girls soccer quarterfinal was moved from a wet, soggy pitch, where the soccer games are normally played, to Watson Field at Pedrick Stadium.
Despite such blustery conditions, the No. 3-seeded Storm got a dramatic, powerful goal from the left foot of Allie Young to defeat No. 6 Hamden Hall 3-2. The win advanced the Storm to the FAAs semis, which will be played at top-seeded Greenwich Academy Tuesday afternoon.
Young's goal cut through the cold and wind and came with 17:07 left in a 2-2 game. From nearly 25 yards out, she booted the ball, a fast-rising, blazing shot from a 45-degree angle that was placed in the top-left corner of the goal.
"Me and Caroline (Parsons) had a little eye-to-eye," Young said. "I was like, C'mon, short, so she passed to me, I passed back to her -- and I've been working on my left foot all season long. I feel like I've strengthened it a lot. I took the shot, the wind was against (my back), and that's just it." First-year Storm head coach Dan Clarke wasn't surprised by how his senior won the game.
"It's another piece of individual brilliance from Allie," Clarke said. "She's been doing it all season. Her and Caroline (Parsons) have worked that short corner on more than one occasion, and it was just a great left-footed strike, which no keeper is gonna save." The head coach emphasized to his team the importance of pass and ball control. He also, with home-field advantage, opted to play against the wind in the first half.
"Obviously the wind was a major factor but we spoke about that before the game," Clarke said. "We needed to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible. We didn't want to go with the wind in the first half, so I thought we did an unbelievable job in the first half to go in up one goal while fighting that wind." St. Luke's led 2-1 at halftime. Young said many of the girls who played the majority of the day weren't fazed by the brutal weather at play.
"When you're playing that high-intensity of a game, you're working as hard as you can and running a lot, so I wasn't that cold," Young said.
The game was a back-and-forth affair until Young's goal sealed the win; St. Luke's dominated possession in the 17 minutes following her strike. But early on, Hamden Hall got on the board first after a pitch shot from Alli Martino -- assisted by Becca Parente -- with 21:08 left in the first half broke the 0-0 on the scoreboard.
The Storm took little time to responsd, as Young set up a fast break that led to Kasey Kelly quickly, deftly putting the ball in the back of the net at the 20:02 mark. It was the first of two goals for the sophomore Kelly, who was assisted again by Young with 11:04 remaining in the first half.
Kelly's shot came from nearly 20 yards out, and while fighting the biting wind, the ball hung before dying just in time to drop in behind Hamden Hall goalie Allie Rhyan, who had seven saves.
"Allie passed to me on both of them, and on the first one she dribbled into the corner and had a nice cutback -- I was just in front of the goal," Kelly said. "I didn't even think about the [goals]. I just shot and they went in." Clarke said he's seen Kelly's play get better and better in the second half of the season, noting she's made some good runs and been ambitious on the break. It all came to fruition, those rewards, with her two goals against the Hornets.
"She plays the hole-in role very, very well," Clarke said. "She gets us ticking because she moves the ball very, very quickly.
The Hornets tied the game at 2 at the 32:53 point of the second half when Vivian Vigliotti brought the ball down the right side of the field, slid while center the ball, forcing St. Luke's goalie Megan Flood to gamble. Flood dove, and the ball was deflected, but the spin on it rolled it to the foot of Avery Giorgio, who had no challenge from the recovering Flood.
Hamden Hall had 17 shots on goal and six corner kicks to the Storm's 10 and five, respectively.
It was the second time the two teams played this season -- St. Luke's won 5-2 on , exploding in the second half after a tight first 40 minutes. In Monday's game, Kelly said Hamden Hall was much more prepared.
"This one was a much tougher game," Kelly said. "I think it was a better team [this time], and the conditions, plus it being the FAAs."
St. Luke's prepped to play a swift, big Greenwich Academy team that's had the Storm's number in recent years. The two met in the season-opener, and GA won 2-0 on Sept. 14.
"They've got good forwards," Clarke said. "We need to defend properly tomorrow. ... We're also not going to get any cheap goals. We need to move the ball quickly and look to combine (formations) and get the ball behind them."