Both the girls and boys soccer teams from Conard and Hall met Tuesday at McKee Stadium in West Hartford.
By Ronni Newton
The Conard girls and boys soccer teams hosted crosstown West Hartford rival Hall in a doubleheader on Tuesday, and the Chieftains were the victors in both games on their home turf.
Last time the two schools played, on Sept. 30 at Hall’s Chalmers Field, the Hall boys were the winners and the girls played to a scoreless tie.
Tuesday night was senior night for Conard, and in a game that both coaches called clean, even, and well-played, the boys game remained scoreless for nearly 30 minutes until Conard senior Will Allen kicked a perfectly-placed throw-in by senior Antonio Masse past Hall goalie Jeremy Rausch.
That proved to be the only goal of the game, with the 1-0 victory extending Conard’s winning streak to five games.
“Obviously this is a huge game because of the town, and the rivalry, and the memories they create and the whole atmosphere here,” Conard head coach Adam Linker said. “But for us the most important thing is that we’re gelling at the right time.”
Allen, who scored the game’s lone goal, hasn’t seen much playing time this season. Linker said on senior day he tries to make sure all of the seniors get into the game. “I should have been putting [Allen] in all season apparently,” he said.
Using Masse for throw-ins is something Linker said he has been doing for the past two years, and it’s one of the team’s set plays that has resulted in several goals during the season.
Linker said another key element of Conard’s win was the amazing play by goalie Vinnie Conelli, who fended off several shots, including a drive by Hall’s Jake Gilden in the first half. “That was an amazing one,” Linker said.
Hall had a three-game winning streak heading into Tuesday’s game, but head coach Zeke Seguro said he doesn’t think the loss will impact the team’s momentum. “We wanted to win, but more importantly [we wanted] to stay healthy.
Seguro said that center back Chris Monnes, one of the team’s key players, has been nursing a sore ankle, and when he went down Seguro decided it was best to keep him out rather than risk more serious injury heading into the tournament. Max Drazen was also limping, and Seguro pulled him out as well.
“It was a well-played clean game by both teams. They scored one more than we did today. That’s it,” Seguro said. A win would have earned the Warriors the CCC Central Blue division title.
Hall ends the season with a 12-3-1 record, and will have home field advantage for the first game of the Class LL state tournament which begins Tuesday. If they win that game, they will retain home field advantage for the next round as well.
Conard, 9-4-3, won’t know until the seedings come out on Friday whether or not they will have to travel or be able to have another game at McKee Stadium. “We’re going to play someone good no matter where we’re going, and I’m comfortable playing anyone, especially with this group,” said Linker.
Before the boys took to the pitch, in the first game of the doubleheader the Conard girls came from behind to beat Hall 2-1. Conard head coach Kerrie Massaro said it was the first time in about six years that Conard had defeated its crosstown rival.
“The girls are excited,” Massaro said.
Hall’s Silvie Pidto kicked the ball in the net first, and the game was tied 1-1 at the half after Meg Melley scored. Melley scored again in the second half, giving the Chieftains the victory.
“I thought Conard deserved to win,” Hall head coach Scott Ferguson said. “We weren’t really composed and I thought they outworked us.”
Conard ends the season with a record of 6-6-4, and Hall finishes 6-7-3. Both teams will travel for first round Class LL games on Nov. 7, and will find out their opponents on Friday.
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