In their first meeting this season, also Hall’s very first game of the season, the Warriors topped West Hartford crosstown rival Chieftains.
By Ted Newton. Photos by Ronni Newton
On a cool, crisp Saturday evening, the Conard and Hall girls soccer teams met in an early season matchup at Chalmers Stadium, with Hall coming away with a 3-0 win in a game that was tighter than the score would indicate.
Although it was the first game of the season for Hall (1-0) and the second for Conard (1-1), due to the uncertainty hanging over all high school sports seasons this fall, it was also “senior night” – with seniors from both teams honored in front their families, the only fans permitted to attend the game.
“Playing Conard for our first game gave the girls something to look forward to,” said Hall head coach Scott Ferguson. “It brings a level of excitement that probably would be missing otherwise. Never had a senior day like this, but it was a nice community experience.”
Both teams looked a bit rusty in the early going. Conard was more poised at first, with short controlled passing. Hall countered with speed and energy, especially on offense.
Hall struck early, with forward Nicky Deslauriers scoring 10 minutes in after breaking past the Conard defense and driving a well-placed shot into the left corner of the goal. Deslauriers, who Ferguson charged “don’t slow down,” had another opportunity to score later the half, but Conard goalie Kellsie McKeown dashed out of the goal mouth and made a diving grab to pull the ball away.
Ten minutes later, forward Abigail Magendantz dribbled up the field and after the ball ping-ponged through several players in front of the Conard goal, Lauren Moskal stepped in from behind and kicked the ball into the net. Her goal put Hall up 2-0 with a quarter of the game played.
Conard had its chances to score during the rest of the half, including a breakaway from half field by forward Emma Sasonov that was stymied by her Hall defender at the last second.
The second half featured tighter play by both teams. “We started marking and talking better,” said Ferguson. “In the first half we worked really hard and had some nice through balls and attacking plays we capitalized on, but we didn’t play how we normally play – we didn’t possess the ball.
“At half, we talked about needing to re-defend a little bit harder, and we needed to pressure the ball a bit better,” said Conard head coach Meg Cersosimo, “and we saw that in the second half.”
Both teams almost scored 10 minutes into the second, with a Conard header glancing off the top post on a beautiful corner kick from Anna Clark; then Hall a minute later, in a breakaway that ended with a shot just missing the left goal post.
Ten minutes later, Hall added to its lead, as Deslauriers scored her second goal of the contest, another shot into the left corner of the goal.
The Chieftains, undeterred, kept their energy and created several chances to lessen the Warrior lead. After midfielder Therese Maloney wove through several Hall defenders only to have her shot blocked with five minutes to go, Conard spent the rest of the game buzzing around Hall’s goal. Yet they couldn’t get the ball in the net.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” said Cersosimo said of her team. “Hall is a very talented, well-coached team. We played with heart and hustle, we cheered each other on, there was good chemistry. We just couldn’t finish.”
“I was happy with the energy and excitement level,” said Ferguson. Indeed, coaches were vocal, and so were the players – with positive encouragement throughout the game on both sides.
Cersosimo agreed. “It was a really fun game to be a part of. There was great sportsmanship. Everyone played hard, but it was positive.”
Hall will travel to Simsbury on Tuesday for a 3:45 game. Conard will host another West Hartford team, Northwest Catholic, on Tuesday at 3:45.
Saturday night’s game can be watched in its entirety on YouTube, courtesy of West Hartford Community Interactive.
[Editor’s Note: This story has been updated. Lauren Moskal has now been correctly identified as the person who scored Hall’s second goal.]
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