The ultimate goal for first-year Foran High girls soccer coach Casey Blake and her team is to make the Class L state tournament.
The Lions, behind a second-half goal from junior midfielder Jules Petrucelli and their overall relentless play, took another step closer with a 1-0 victory over city rival Jonathan Law on Monday night.
The teams squared off at the Vito DeVito Sports Complex and played a majority of the game in the rain.
Petrucelli, one of the stronger kickers on the team, retrieved a ball 40 yards out and launched a high shot that carried over the head of Law keeper Emily Romero.
The score came with 7:58 remaining in a game, which Foran dominated, outshooting the Eagles, 20-11.
The Lions, who are 3-6-3 after they snapped a three-game winning streak by Law, need at least two more wins in their remaining four games to qualify for states.
“Earlier in the game, I took a touch and they [Law] were all over me,” Petrucelli said. “This time, when I got the ball, I figured I’d take a chance and let it go.
“I was a little surprised when it went in. I might’ve been a bit lucky on the shot.”
For Blake, it’s just another factor that she likes about her team.
“I always tell these kids to look for any opportunity that they can find,” Blake said. “Tonight, it was all about heart. We’ve played a very tough schedule this year, but we’ve never given up on the goal of making states.
“I told them before this game that the season is starting to run out. It’s pretty simple, we need to win games.”
Solid play throughout the midfield by Petrucelli, Christine Pala, Val Pozdynkova and Alyssa Pudill, and the contributions from deep backs Claire Torrento, Hadley Whittaker, Kali Borden and Alexia Malangone, limited the effectiveness of Law’s talented attackers Brianna Grazynski and Erin Saley.
“Their entire team played very well,” said second-year Law coach J.D. Rhode. “They were organized and they were ready.
“Our girls were flat for most of the game. In rivalries like this, it’s not so much about the X’s and O’s. It’s about the passion and the commitment.
The loss left Law with a 5-6-1 record and the two teams will meet again Tuesday at Law.
Grazynski challenged twice in the early going. She shot the ball just wide off of a break in the game’s third minute, before being stopped on a breakaway less than four minutes later by Foran goalie Carly Pala (eight saves).
The players only had a short period of time near the end of the first half when the rain subsided, but only briefly. They played under downpours for the entire second half.
“I love the rain,” Petrucelli said. “It never bothers me as long as it doesn’t get cold.”
Romero had a busy night, making 17 saves, helped by defenders Sarah Irvine, Bianca Stefanacci, Cassie Wasson and Mariah Root.
Kasey Butts, Shea Lagonigro, Janessa Soucy and Ciara Hayden keyed the midfield play.
Foran used Maggie Meyers and Kayla Newell on the front line.
Having played in this rivalry, Blake knows the importance of it.
“For us, it’s like the World Cup of Milford,” she said. “It’s intense, but once it’s over the players on both teams are friendly to each other.”
That is until Tuesday night, when Law looks for a reversal of fortune when Foran visits at 6:30.