Girls soccer: Margin of victory good for team's future
Both Wilbur Cross girls soccer coach Brian Grindrod and Shelton's Marvin Miller got to clear their respective benches on Saturday afternoon in the Gaelette’s 8-0 shutout win over the Governors at Shelton's Capewell Park.
It was done for different reasons, however.
Grindrod lost three players due to injuries and didn't have a choice.
Once Miller's side had built up a substantial 6-0 lead, it gave the veteran coach a chance to give his junior varsity players some varsity experience.
"We have a system, the way we like to play the ball," Miller said. "Our jayvee kids are also getting to understand it better. Today we were able to make a seamless transition from the starters to the subs. Putting a trust in that transition allowed me to get all of our varsity players out of the game."
Seven players were involved in Shelton's scoring, with sophomore Noelle Garretson netting a pair of goals.
Maggie Howard, the gifted outside midfielder, had a goal and two assists.
Also scoring for Shelton were Haley Oko, Lindsay Taylor, Erin Keary, Zoe Rogers and Lindsey Iadarola.
Because she's so versatile, Miller is able to move Howard from the outside to the middle.
"I've done that to give her some experience," he said. "You never know when you have to use players in other positions. Maggie is such a talented crosser of the ball. When she does get open on the outside, she knows when to make that break and go for the goal. Her instincts are good."
Both Howard and Garretson have scored at least a goal or earned an assist in all six of Shelton's games.
Howard still sees her role, however, as a passer.
"It's my job to get the balls to the girls so that they can score; to give them the best opportunities for our team to win,” she said.
Howard also takes all of the teams' corner kicks.
"Maggie is deadly doing that,"Miller said. "We have two set plays off of corners. She's usually able to find somebody open."
One of her corners was knocked in by Rogers for Shelton's sixth goal.
It was the third time this season that the Gaelettes have played on a grass field. They're hoping to get to their real home, the newly-installed turf surface at Finn Stadium, this Friday afternoon for an important game with unbeaten Mercy of Middletown.
This was Shelton's fifth win against one tie.
"We're expecting big things this year," said Howard, a four-year starter who also plays basketball. "We're a strong, tight-knit group of players. Everyone seems to know their role and we try and keep to our system for the entire game."
The loss left Cross, like Shelton, a member of the Southern Connecticut Conference's Housatonic Division, with a 1-4-1 record.
"We're not re-building, we're building," said Grindrod, a first-year head coach who handled the junior varsity in 2017 and has had extensive coaching experience both at Stratford High (boys and girls side) and in the Milford Youth Leagues.
"Today we had to take on one of the best teams in our conference and I believe the best team in our division. They make you work the entire length and width of the field. They out-worked us. I have a young group of kids here. But we're already changing the culture. This program had gone winless for two seasons. We now have a win and a tie.”
Shelton built up a 3-0 first-half lead on goals from Garretson, Howard and Mackenzie Joyce.
Shelton took 29 shots in the game; 10 in the opening 40 minutes and 19 in the second.
The Gaels' defense limited Cross to three attempts with starting keeper Adrianna Malick making one save. She gave way to Rachel Bishop for the game's closing six minutes.
Cross got some steady play out of goalie Savannah Walls (five saves), along with midfielders Katherine Van Tassel, Zoe Eichler and Hallie Hushion. Hushion is a sophomore while Eichler and Van Tassel are freshmen. Walls was a forward who chose to drop back into the goal. Her athletic skills help her out.