NEW BRITAIN - It took 40 minutes for Wethersfield to show the New Britain girls soccer team just how much work still needs to be done this season.
After allowing one goal through the first half, the match went downhill quickly for the Hurricanes, who fell to the Eagles 8-0 Tuesday afternoon at Veterans Stadium.
“The first half, the girls had the right attitude,” New Britain first-year head coach Rob Pugliares said. “They sacrificed themselves for the team and they played well. They really set the tone. But in the second half, they thought they were in the game and they overestimated themselves because of how well they played in the first.”
Over the first 40 minutes of play, the Hurricanes (0-2) relied on their defense to get them through the game and it was up to the task, consistently finding ways to thwart the Eagles’ attack. After an 8-0 loss to Newington earlier this week, New Britain knew it had to start the game on a strong note.
“We talked all week about keeping pressure on the ball, closing down the spaces, not diving in,” Pugliares said. “We talked about waiting for them to make a mistake and getting the ball back, being patient and waiting to counter.”
Wethersfield took 20 shots on goal in the first half with the lone goal coming at the 23:12 mark when Madison Righi sank the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
“The first half shows how much fitness we’ve put into this year, also how much heart we have in the game,” Hurricanes senior midfielder Maya Mlynarska said. “Honestly, the first half is more of a representation of who we are.”
Once New Britain came back for the second half, the Eagles continued to control the time of possession, but this time found the back of the net. Overall, Pugliares was not impressed with his team’s effort.
“I was really upset about the attitude that they showed in the second half,” Pugliares said. “If we do what we did in the first half for the rest of the season, we’re going to be a team that nobody wants to play. I think we had a good half and I think if that’s the way we play this year, [teams]’ll know they’re in for a tough game.
“We frustrated Wethersfield. They were clearly frustrated and if we went out with that same spirit of sacrifice in the second half, the score of the game might not read in our favor, but it wouldn’t be 8-0.”
Seven different players scored for Wethersfield over those final 40 minutes, including Madison Righi, Alyssa Prosperi, Alexis Szymecki, Emma Klementon, Anie Klementon, Taylor Adduci and Ana Villagra.
New Britain’s keeper, Marilou Gonzalez, nearly saved two of the Eagles’ goals. The first was a high flying ball that nearly missed the top of her fingers with 11:48 left in the game. The other came 24 seconds later when it appeared she caught the ball but it rebounded out of her arms and into the goal. Gonzalez made a total of 13 saves on the afternoon.
The Hurricanes on the other hand, managed just a single shot the entire game.
“I feel like in the second half shows us what we need to work on,” Mlynarska said. “This team is very young. Since my sophomore year, two years ago, we have graduated nine seniors, now I’m one of the two on the team. Here we have to teach the younger players mental toughness, positioning. Although they have the heart there’s always that mental toughness that you have to have in the game. It’s vital for any team to be successful.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org