NEW BRITAIN - It turns out 70 minutes of play was not enough to determine a winner of the Elite Nation FC (New Britain)-Windsor match in the opening round of the Nutmeg State Games 18U girls soccer tournament.
More time might not have even worked.
The two teams managed just a combined seven shots on net on their way to a 0-0 draw at Veterans Stadium.
Despite not coming out with a victory, New Britain head coach Zelvan Philips remained focused on the positives.
“My philosophy is ‘progress is a win,’” Philips said. “So even though it was a tie, for us, it’s a victory because we didn’t know what to expect. Going into the game, we were pretty much going into an unknown because a lot of our girls hadn’t played with each other.”
The New Britain offense struggled to get anything going early, failing to put a shot on goal in the first half. They were able to put two shots on goal in the second half, but the team was noticeably putting more pressure on the Windsor defense.
“I basically said to them at halftime, ‘we already see that the game is winnable,’” Philips said. “So I told our team to take more risks, go forward and be more efficient basically and that’s what happened.”
Mikayla Hayes was key in net for New Britain. She stopped all five shots on goal and picked her spots on when to come out of the net to go after the ball.
“[Hayes] made huge progress for us today,” Philips said. “She’s made huge strides from not playing soccer at all to being an interim goalkeeper in her freshman year to now having the mantle all to herself. She really impressed me today.”
It also somewhat helped that New Britain was able to maintain fresh legs with the team subbing in and out on nearly every stoppage. Typically, so much movement causes confusion, especially with a team with little playing time together. But Philips relied on his players’ ability to adjust on the fly.
“We really communicated and really played as a unit,” Philips said. “That made the game much easier for us. Even when I moved players to different positions, because they had an understanding of how that other player was functioning, they had the ability to do the same.”
The draw gives New Britain its first point in the standings. The team still has two more round-robin games left before the medal rounds on Sunday. Its next game is today against the Avalanche (Southington) at Sage Park.
But in order to make it to the medal games, Philips knows his team is going to have to produce on offense.
“We’ve shown that we can defend,” he said. “We’ve shown that we can connect passes. We’ve shown that we can clear chances. Now it’s time for us to take the chances.”