Newtown High School’s girls’ soccer team had easily its toughest test of the campaign in a September 26 visit to unbeaten Joel Barlow of Redding. The Nighthawks suffered a 1-0 setback for their first regular-season loss since October of 2011, but the Hawks bounced back with a 5-1 win over visiting New Fairfield two days later. Newtown then tied host Bunnell of Stratford 1-1 on September 30 to carry a 6-1-1 record into an October 3 clash with New Milford.
Kerry Scallon scored twice, and Brenna Kelly, Nicole Russo, and Sarah Lynch all had net-finders in the win against New Fairfield (which fell to 2-5). Newtown built a 3-1 halftime lead, but Coach Marc Kenney was much more impressed with his team’s performance after the break.
“We actually came out a little sluggish in the first half,” Kenney said. “In the second half we were miles better.”
Against Bunnell (3-2-3), the Nighthawks finally broke a scoreless tie late in the game on a Kelly penalty kick. The host Bulldogs got the equalizer in the final minutes, but Kenney didn’t feel his team gave up a point in settling for the deadlock.
“We played really hard, they played really hard and I think both teams deserved to win so we’ll take a tie,” the coach said.
Kenney said the loss to Barlow came at a good time in the sense that it is still pretty early in the season, giving his team a chance to get back on the winning note before the late-October playoffs. Barlow dominated the first half, intercepting almost every Newtown goal kick, or boot from the defensive end of the field.
“They’re a little faster than we are and that presented problems for us,” Kenney said of the Falcons. “They fought hard, they tackled hard, they won balls in the air.”
The game was scoreless at the break despite a 5-1 shots on goal advantage for the hosts. Barlow’s Ramsey Walsh scored less than eight minutes into the second half to cap off a nice passing play. Newtown responded with some scoring threats of its own. Sarah Lynch was denied by Barlow goalkeeper Ellen Probst on an in-close one-timer off a cross from Makenna Cerney. Probst ended the game with five saves and her counterpart, Alyssa Ruefenacht made 13 stops to keep Newtown in the game.
The Nighthawks were able to come away with some positives from the loss. The team made a halftime adjustment to move the center midfielders forward in an effort to generate more offense, and it worked to the tune of a significant increase in shots in the final 40 minutes.
“When you’re getting chances against a good team like Barlow that’s the takeaway,” Kenney said.
Newtown, after the New Milford game, will visit Portsmouth, R.I., on Saturday, October 5, then return to South-West Conference action for a visit to Brookfield on October 7. The Hawks return home for a 7 pm contest with Lauralton Hall of Milford at Blue & Gold Stadium on October 10.