The Shelton High girls soccer team attacked early and often, defeating Southington High, 4-0, in the first round of the Class LL state tournament on Nov. 9.
Senior captain Kathryn Arena scored for the Gaelettes, while fellow seniors Sarah Skoronski and Kaleigh Panek scored. Allison Panek also scored for Shelton.
“The seniors did what they were supposed to do,” said Shelton head coach Marvin Miller. “They did what they’ve been doing all year long and they’ve been working as a 15 girls all pulling their weight together. You only go as far as your seniors are going to take you.”
Shelton advanced to face top-seeded, unbeaten Glastonbury High — the third-ranked team in the country and owner of the longest winning streak in state history. The Tomahawks posted a 7-0 win over the Gaelettes in a second-round matchup on Friday afternoon.
“We don’t have any pressure here,” Miller said following Shelton’s win against Southington. “If we lose, we lose. Everybody expects to lose to those guys. If we can go out and play our game and stick to the style that works for us I think we’re going to give these guys some work.”
In the win over No. 16 seed Southington, Arena helped Shelton get on the board less than five minutes into the contest. Arena found Panek at the net for the score, giving Shelton an early 1-0 lead.
Despite the lead, the Gaelettes kept attacking the net, getting many shots on goal.
“That’s our game,” said Miller. “We play that high-pressure game. We like to press them hard and play that up-tempo. Once we got a lead we got a little soft. We convinced them to get back on that front foot again and we got three second-half goals. You can’t ask for anymore than that.”
Shelton, the No. 17 seed, had four corner kicks in the first half but it was a corner in the second half that reached the net.
Eight minutes into the second half, Skoronski scored for the Gaelettes on an attempted corner kick and the ball slipped through the fingertips of keeper Janelle Mangassarian and into the back of the net for the goal, giving Shelton a 2-0 lead.
Shelton continued to control possession, as the Blue Knights replaced Mangassarian with sophomore Olivia Sherwood.
Allison Panek then struck 11 minutes later from 20 yards out, when her kick went past the reach of Sherwood into the corner of the net to give Shelton 3-0 lead with 21 minutes to play.
Despite the lead, Shelton kept attacking with shots from Arena and Panek and putting pressure on Sherwood in net.
With eight minutes left in the game, the Gaelettes scored another goal when Arena deked the Southington defender and kicked it into the corner for the goal. The goal gave Shelton a commanding 4-0 with time winding down in the second half.