Suffield girls fall in LL title game

MERIDEN — It’s hard to look at a 19-1 season and call it a failure. And for the Suffield girls soccer team, though the season ended with a 2-1 loss to St. Joseph’s, the very fact that they were in the Class LL title game was a remarkable feat all by itself.

“Once we went up to LL nobody thought we would be here other than ourselves,” Suffield head coach Dave Sullivan said, referencing the continual success of the formerly Class M squad that had it ‘promoted’ to Class LL.

But the Wildcats deserved to be there, and they nearly completed a comeback victory when Brittany Champagne tripped, got back up while maintaing possession of the ball, and booted it into the back of the net for Suffield’s first goal of the championship game.

Down 2-1, the Wildcats finally looked like themselves after a dismal first half, a half that saw St. Joseph’s outshoot them 6-2.

But the comeback wasn’t to be, as the clock turned into Suffield’s biggest enemy.

“Once we settled down, in the second half the last 25 minutes, that’s Suffield soccer,” Sullivan, who was attempting to earn the girls their 10th title, said. “I told them at halftime ‘if you keep playing like that you will be upset no matter what the outcome. If you come out and play Suffield soccer you can hold your head up and play.'”

The Wildcats got a shot on goal from Nicole Stryjek ten minutes into the first half, and one from Ashlie DaCruz with 11:22 left in the half. But that was it for Suffield, as St. Joes converted a Jenna Bike pass to a Samantha Grasso Goal at the 19:27 mark, and a goal from Bike at the 17:30 mark.

Things were luckily better in the second 40 minutes.

“I’m glad we showed up in the second half,” the coach said. “That’s how we play with the pressure. I think in the first half we gave too much respect to Sammy and to Jenna, which you have to, but instead of keeping on them, we gave them space.”

Suffield goalie Meredith Ouellette was fantastic in the loss, showing magnificent growth over the length of the season. Ouellette didn’t even play soccer last year, she played volleyball instead. But her athleticism allowed her to make four spectacular saves to keep her team in the game.

“She works hard,” Sullivan said of the junior. “She’s never been technically trained, she’s one of the best athletes Suffield has ever had. She would go 20 minutes without facing a shot and then go up and come up with a great save.”

As for the seniors that populated most of the starting lineup for Sullivan’s squad all year long, it is a bittersweet ending to a four-year endeavor fighting alongside one another with one common goal.

“I think they are upset now but when they look back at what they’ve done,” Sullivan said. “I have seven seniors and I have no doubt that it is going to hurt the program a little bit, but I put a coupe younger ones in to get a feel of what it is like. Losing those seven is probably the biggest class of talent, losing the number two and four all-time scorers. To have those two play together and to have them on the same team has been great for four years.”

Sullivan and the girls stuck around for the second game of the doubleheader, and were excited to cheer the Wildcat boys on as they won their third straight title later that afternoon.

“There is nothing better than having the whole town rooting for both teams,” Sullivan, whose son Sean helped the boys to a 2-0 win over Ellington for the Class M title, said. “Even though we are disappointed we will be the loudest people cheering for them. From youth sports and up we are definitely a soccer town.”

For many more Suffield Class LL title game photos, click HERE!

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