Girls' Booters Get Win And Quality Ties
Sure, the Nighthawks didn’t win, but they put in quite an effort and were fairly pleased with earning a scoreless tie with visiting Weston in the first game of a Newtown High School soccer doubleheader at Blue & Gold Stadium on September 27 (the boys’ squad followed with a 1-1 tie against Weston in the nightcap).
“We were happy about the tie because they’re a good team — we know they’ve played well so far,” senior captain Brenna Kelly said. “We had some good effort.”
Including a goal-line save by defender Marissa Thill, midway through the second half, to help goalkeeper Alyssa Ruefenacht (eight saves) earn Newtown’s half of the double shutout along with Weston keeper Ursula Alwang (seven stops).
The Trojans came into the game with a 3-1-1 record (and improved to 4-1-2 with a victory over Pomperaug of Southbury on September 30) and Newtown was 3-1-2 (Now 3-1-4 following yet another tie, a 1-1 draw with New Milford the same day). Not losing to a South-West Conference rival with a winning record is something Newtown Coach Marc Kenney believes will pay dividends for his squad down the road when playoff positioning shakes out.
“You get a point and you move on. Someone else is going to stumble against these teams,” Kenney said.
Newtown had some late-game chances to break the Weston stalemate. Alwang’s save on Sarah Houle’s shot led to three straight NHS corner kicks in a matter of seconds with less than four minutes to play in regulation.
Newtown, after the tie with New Milford, has earned points in five straight games. The Nighthawks fell behind and got the equalizer with just three minutes remaining when Hailey Conrad converted off a Jessica Keller free kick. Pulling even showed plenty of resiliency on the part of the Nighthawks after missing a golden opportunity to tie the game moments earlier.
“I was pleased with our effort tonight. It is a tie on the road against a really good SWC team. I think I was most impressed with our reaction after we missed a penalty kick with four minutes left,” Kenney said. “The reaction — both the players on the field and those on the bench — showed me a real desire to figure out a way to tie the game. It actually energized us. At times our youth shows, but tonight our maturity won out and I am really happy with that.”
The Nighthawks, after toppling visiting Brookfield 5-0 on September 20, traveled to Brookfield six days later and got by with a 2-1 win behind goals by Conrad and Hannah Booth.
“Same opponent, but it’s a different game,” Kelly noted.
Winning by a large margin at home then, barely getting past the same opponent on the road, was of no concern to Kenney.
“We typically play really well at home. This place is good for us,” Kenney said of Blue & Gold Stadium. “Playing on the road is always a challenge.”
Tough tests stand to continue for the Nighthawks. They’ll host Pomperaug on the turf at Blue & Gold at 3:45 pm on Friday, October 3, then visit Masuk of Monroe on October 6 and Joel Barlow of Redding on October 9, before returning home to face Immaculate of Danbury on October 11 for a 7 pm contest. All of these appear to be not-so-easy battles on paper given the winning marks of each squad.
“We’re going to start to get into some tough games now,” Kelly acknowledged.
“Every game is going to be a battle,” Kenney added. “Once you get into the heart of the schedule you’re getting after it seemingly every game.”
The Hawks had a lineup overhaul after graduation claimed most of last year’s starters, and the squad is progressing in the early going, the coach said. Kenney added that he’d like to see the team clean some things up tactically and continue to work to overcome tough competition.
“We’re getting there — we’re playing hard,” Kenney said.