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Patience Pays Off for Conard in Win Over Bristol Central

Taylor Yepes goes high for the header off the Conard corner kick. Conard vs. Bristol Central Girls Soccer. Sept. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

The Conard girls soccer team defeated Bristol Central Friday night in West Hartford.

First year coach PJ Louis celebrates the 2-0 win over Bristol Central with his players. Conard vs. Bristol Central Girls Soccer. Sept. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

By Paul Palmer  

For 68 minutes the Conard girls’ soccer team did nearly everything right. Crisp passes, good combinations, and good shots, but they could not get the last touch on the ball to knock it over the goal line.

It would have been easy for the Red Wolves to lose form and patience as they dominated possession and chances against Bristol Central. They stayed focused and were rewarded when Taylor Yepes’ perfectly placed free kick from 35-yards out  surprised the Rams and their goalie, and slammed into the back of the net with 12:04 to play.

“All season I have been seeing goalies way off their lines, so I just decided to chip it in,” said Yepes.

One of the most active players on the pitch all night, Yepes’ coach PJ Louis said he was not surprised that she took the chance. “That goal as a heads up play a lot of other kids wouldn’t every try,” said the first-year coach. Before that score Conard was putting together a strong offensive effort that saw Yepes, Courtney McPhee, and Daphne Brewer work with Alice Araya to break down the visitors’ midfield and defense.

Conard’s Alice Araya fights for posession of the ball against Bristol Central. Conard vs. Bristol Central Girls Soccer. Sept. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Time after time, the Red Wolves found themselves building good scoring chances, but a combination of saves missed shots, and a few turnovers kept the game scoreless. With 16:44 to go in the first, Araya’s shot clanked off the crossbar and the Conard follow-up was off target.

With just under 7 minutes to play in the opening half, Yepes raced after a long punt from goalie Meryl Rung that bounced into the Rams’ defensive zone. As she raced towards the goal, the opposing goalie raced towards the ball and managed to get a toe poke on the ball just ahead of Yepes. Five minutes later, it was Yepes again whistling a one-timer  just past the post for the Red Wolves and the score was 0-0 at the break. “We moved the ball well, we just couldn’t get that last touch,” said Louis.

Conard nearly drew first blood just 2:30 into the second half when Brewer – who owned the left-wing space all game – made a beautiful run down the wing and sent a perfect cross into the box. Yepes charged onto the ball but her header was stopped by Bristol Centrals goalie.

Yepes was letting shots go from near and far, a few were over the top, and few just wide.  It was a little hard , but we just kept taking our shots,” she said.

Brewer had a golden opportunity at 16:19 when she managed to get a touch on a loose ball, but it rolled tantalizingly wide of the far post.

Yepes finally broke the ice with her free kick which took everyone by surprise and set off a midfield celebration for Conard. Six minutes later, the Rams had their best chance of the game to score but a direct kick from 19 yards out and right in the middle of the goal scraped the top of the crossbar and fell out of play.

Courtney McPhee of Conard moves into space as she controls the ball. Conard vs. Bristol Central Girls Soccer. Sept. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

With 48 seconds remaining Yepes had another free kick after McPhee was fouled. She sent it on goal, but it was misplayed in net and fell to the feet of Mariana Temponi who knocked in the loose ball for a much-deserved goal. “This was a great team win and it came after our best week of practice,” said Conard’s coach. “Our defense and midfield were solid and we were able to build our offense from the back.”

The win – the team’s second in a row – moves Conard back to .500 on the season at 2-2. Next week they have three tough games, opening on the road Tuesday at Avon before hosting Southington on Thursday and then going up Main Street to meet Hall on the Titans’ home turf on Saturday.

Madilyn Dupont of Conard heads away the free kick as the defensive wall does its job. Conard vs. Bristol Central Girls Soccer. Sept. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

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