Quick Start by Glastonbury Earns Tomahawks Big Win at RHAM

HEBRON-Glastonbury and RHAM girls soccer stepped onto the field Friday night prepared for a memorable battle between two of the state’s best teams, one in which each offense would have difficultly scoring against two elite defenses. Eventually, the action would become dictated by the defenses. But first, the Tomahawks took control immediately, firing in two goals in the first three minute and placing RHS in a hole they could never quite escape. lamp

Jackie LaManna opened up the scoring in the first minutes, and Sam Forrest gave GHS a 2-0 lead just over a minute later. Evan after the Sachems defense clamped down, the Tomahawks continued to play at a high level and went on to win 3-1 in front of a raucous road crowd. Glastonbury, which entered the game ranked fourth in the Class LL standings, continued to stay undefeated and improved to 9-0-1, while RHAM, fourth in L, fell to 7-1-2.

LaManna scored 1:59 in. After receiving a pinpoint pass from Mackenzie Baker to the right of the goal, LaManna fired a shot over the outstretched arms of Sierra Blank, with Baker officially earning the assist. Just a few possessions later, Forrest outraced a trio of defenders down the left sideline and fired the ball in against Blank, who was positioned on the opposite side of the goal. The Tomahawks would maintain the 2-0 lead for the remainder of the first half.

“The first goal was just fabulous. We had a couple of on-touch plays along the sideline and, and both that and the second one was great finishes. Sam’s been great all season and tough, and that’s what we needed: A great start,” Glastonbury head coach Joe Finnochiaro said.

“It was really the first five minutes (they took control”. They got two shots off and scored two goals,” RHAM head coach Nick Libera said. “I think it was less us being unprepared and more that Glastonbury came out hard and ready to play. They were ready to go from the start, and it took us those five minutes to get going. It ended up being the difference in the game.”

Following those opening five minutes, the game slowly but surely became more even. For a while, Glastonbury continued to maintain possession a majority of the time, with its players displaying quality passing and an impressive amount of speed which allowed it to beat Sachems defenders downfield. However, both defenses began to ramp up its pressure and become more physical, with the ball largely staying in the midfield or along the sidelines and attackers and midfielders not finding open spaces. Midway through the half, the Tomahawks obtained a few scoring opportunities that the Sachems quickly thwarted. Blank saved a pair of shots that followed one another quickly, with the second slowed down by a teammate. GHS then earned a pair of corner kicks, both which were corralled by defenders. In the final minutes, RHAM then moved the ball better, with it earning three corner kicks in the final eight minutes. Only one came close to the goal however, with it being headed away.

In the second half, the game became more physical and frenetic. The Sachems controlled a majority of the possessions in the first few minutes, with Glastonbury’s offense unable to move the ball for a few seconds. After a stretch of improved passing and the ability to occasionally find the open field, RHAM was finally able to capitalize. Teammates found star Madison Czarnecki open on the left sideline near the goal, and she was able to sneak the ball past Maddy Gerhardt 9:43 in to make it 2-1. Libera praised the team’s defensive effort for this stretch as well as the entire game save the first five minutes.

“Our defense made adjustments as a team after the first two goals and the girls made adjustments on the field, and we played much better.”

In the next few minutes after Czarnecki’s goal, RHAM earned multiple corner kicks but could not find an open space to get a quality shot off. The best chance came on the final corner kick, with Tomahawk defenders able to close in and clear the ball off the line. Moments later, their entire squad was able to seize back momentum.

Alex Bedard scored a huge goal with 21:20 remaining to bring the lead to 3-1, putting huge pressure on the Sachems. The goal was set up by a corner kick from Baker. Bedard eventually received the ball along the sideline and showed some great feedback, maneuvering through multiple defenders and firing the ball in.

“She had actually just come in off the bench and is a little bit tougher player in the midfield that we needed,” Finnochiaro said. “She came in and won some 50-50 balls, and was in the right place at the right time for us.”

After a few more minutes of RHAM controlling possession but being unable to get shots on goal, the game began to shift back to the midfield during its final minutes, with the teams splitting possession. The best scoring chance for either team came with 5:36 remaining when Gerhardt stretched and blocked a powerful shot by Bridget Lalonde.

“I thought our offense played really well, and we had our chances. The third goal almost sealed it for them. Maybe we could have scored our second goal, but as time wound down it seemed those three would hold up,” Libera said.

Finnochiaro praised the effort of his defense, signaling out multiple players.

“The defense has been splendid. We have Chloe (Landers) back, Sophia Delsauniers back there, so the defense has been really solid, and Maddy made some great saves at the end there.” Gerhardt finished with 7 saves.

Both coaches talked about the importance of Friday’s game and what their teams needed to do to continue succeeding for the remainder of the regular season.

“This win was a good start. We still have some big games left, but this was a good team win. We just need to continue to get tighter and better as a team and continue to work together in these last few weeks,” Finnochiaro said.

“We gained experience from this game and learned how we have to play for a whole game and defend, so it’s a good chance to learn and build going forward for the rest of the season and going into the state tournament.

 

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