Glastonbury Defense Sends Tomahawks to State Championship Game

MIDDLETOWN-Glastonbury girls soccer advanced to the Class LL semifinals in large part due to its defense, and it was the same story in Wednesday’s semifinal game against Simsbury. With their aggressive defense leading the way, the Tomahawks were able to triumph in an exciting contest.

Glastonbury defeated the fourth-seeded Trojans 1-0 at Middletown High, with senior captain Brittany Uricchio scoring the winning goal. The top-seeded Tomahawks (21-1) will face No. 6 Fairfield Warde (17-3-3) in the championship game Saturday at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven at 2:30 p.m.

The defense set the tone in the first half. After controlling possession for a majority of the opening 20 minutes, Glastonbury silenced Simsbury’s offensive attack in the following 20. During this stretch, The Tomahawks did an outstanding job of getting back on defense and denying passing lanes, and rarely left Trojan players open. While Simsbury held the ball for a large majority of this stretch, it was unable to obtain scoring opportunities. Glastonbury goalie Abby Renaud made a nice save with 14 minutes remaining in the half on Katherine Zwick’s free kick.

The defense continued to play great throughout the second half. It forced the Trojans offensive players to play one-on-one soccer instead of as a team, and slowly but surely wore them down. This helped the Tomahawks offensive be more effective and pressure Simsbury, leading to Uricchio’s goal.

“I give a lot of credit it to our defense, they were very strong,” Uricchio said. “There were times where Simsbury definitely had a chance to score, and we stopped them.”

Glastonbury coach Joe Finocchiaro had nothing but praise for the Trojans following the game.

“Overall, Simsbury put a lot of pressure on us and I give them a lot of credit for that,” he said. “They were one of the tougher teams we played all season, and hats off to their coaches and players. It was a great matchup.”

After playing inconsistently in the first half, the Tomahawks offense looked much more comfortable in the second. They were able to move the ball easily and avoid mistakes and consistently generated scoring opportunities.

Uricchio scored four minutes into the half when she smashed a cross from Sabrina Glaser into the net. Glaser’s cross came from the left wing, and Uricccho beat Carly Heintz high and to the left.

“Brittany has been scoring big goals for us all season. I believe this is her third game-winning goal. She always scores in close games,” Finocchiaro said.

“I saw the ball coming from Sabrina and I just knew I had to finish,” Uricchio said when asked about her goal. “It gave us a boost on offense and helped us be more positive.”

No matter how hard they tried in the final minutes, the Trojans were never able to break free of Glastonbury and score. Their best opportunity came on a corner kick with 16 minutes remaining. Renaud finished with two saves.

The Tomahawks are making their fourth trip to the final since 2009. They won it all in 2011.

Finocchiaro said that Glastonbury must continue to stay focused and execute well to defeat Warde and earn the title. He had a simple answer when asked how it would prepare for Saturday.

“Rest. Rest. Right now it’s about resting mentally and physically and getting our legs back.”

“To win, I just think we need to continue doing what we’re doing,” Uricchio said. “We need to communicate well and move the ball together and finish on scoring opportunities. I definitely think we can win.”

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