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Goals Off Set Pieces Key Success Of Nighthawk Girls’ Booters
Two late-game free kicks led to both goals as Newtown High School’s girls’ soccer team came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to defeat visiting Immaculate of Danbury 2-1 at Blue & Gold Stadium on October 9, in a rematch of last year’s South-West Conference championship tilt.
With the victory, the Nighthawks made it six consecutive games without a loss heading into Thursday’s scheduled visit to Bunnell of Stratford at 6 pm. Newtown improved to 7-1-2 overall and 6-0 in SWC play; Immaculate dropped to 10-2-1 (8-2-1).
Newtown applied most of the pressure in the second half, and the persistence paid off with 27:16 remaining when Hannah Daly’s free kick appeared to glance off a head of either an Immaculate defender or a well-positioned Emma Curtis who, either way, had a huge impact on the ball changing directions and sailing over the head of Immaculate’s goalkeeper.
With just 3:40 to go, Sydney Howard banged home a shot off a scramble following a scramble off Karen Pirone’s low hit into 18-yard box traffic.
A goal that late in soccer is almost like the equivalent of a go-ahead score in the final seconds of many other sports. The Mustangs did, however, muster a bit of waning-minutes pressure — including a corner kick with just over a minute left — only to be turned aside by the Nighthawks. Newtown goalkeeper Julianna Stavola finished with six saves.
“Our strength is set pieces,” Newtown Coach Marc Kenney said of his team’s ability to convert off free kicks and corners.
“That’s how we win games,” Curtis added.
The come-from-behind effort was something the Nighthawks take pride in.
“It definitely tells a lot about our character,” Curtis said.
Kenney said that a halftime talk helped the Nighthawks get on track to the victory.
“We were playing scared and reacting to what they were doing and not playing the Newtown way,” said Kenney, adding that winning 50-50 balls and playing tougher in the final 40 minutes were key to the turnaround. “We just played harder in the second half.”
Kenney is pleased with his team’s overall effort of late, and he was happy to come away with another win despite his team not having its best performance against Immaculate.
The Nighthawks defeated host New Milford 3-1 on October 3, then blanked visiting Weston 1-0 two days later, handing the Trojans their first loss of the fall.
“I couldn’t be happier with our effort. I think we played really well against Weston and last week against New Milford. To not play well today [against Immaculate] and find a way, I’m super pleased,” Kenney said.
Against New Milford, Pirone, Curtis, and Kaley Meisenheimer all scored, and Howard, Ally McCarthy, and Curtis had assists.
In the win over Weston, Curtis was set up by Erin Phaneuf for the lone tally. Stavola made six saves.
The Nighthawks, who were battling several injuries in the first half of the season, got those players back but saw Meisenheimer get hurt in the Weston game. The Hawks, following the Bunnell contest, have five remaining before the conference playoffs kick off.
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