Title dreams motivate Green Wave girls' soccer

New Milford High School has long since proved its worth as an upper-echelon girls soccer side.

Coach Greg LaCava's 2012 squad shrugged off a disappointing regular season to advance to the semifinals of the state Class LL tournament.

The autumn before, with LaCava assisting Greg Marsan, the Green Wave captured the first league title in the quarter-century history of NMHS girls soccer by winning the South-West Conference championship.

This fall, aspirations are high, even with all-state midfielder Sabrina Baxter relegated by injury to lending her leadership skills from the sidelines.

The girls have already achieved primary goals of qualifyuing for next week's South-West Conference playoffs and the CIAC state Class LL tournament.

"I am thoroughly enjoying every day with the girls." said LaCava. "We hope to make a strong run in both conference and state playoffs."

In the past week, the girls deadlocked Joel Barlow, 1-1 on the Falcons' pitch in Redding; eased past visiting New Fairfield, 3-0, on goals by Claire Brofford, Helen Bayers and Jen Millar, and the flawless goalkeeping of Tara Lynch; and edged stubborn Bunnell, 2-1, in Stratford, thanks to scores by Jen Millar and Monica Baxter.

Those successes brought LaCava's team to 9-3-1 -- third best in the SWC -- with just three matches to play in the regular season.

The Green Wave were set Tuesday to visit non-league foe Torrington and then travel Thursday to Milford to challenge Lauralton Hall.

A home date Monday, Oct. 21, with Notre Dame will cap the regular schedule.

The key to success, other than the team's remarkable depth of talent, is its commitment to making each practice, each match count.

"We are a deep squad and are able to use many girls to continue coming at opponents in waves," said LaCava. "All the girls have really worked together and are very cohesive."

The Green Wave's one shortcoming thus far has been its inability capitalize often enough on its numerous runs into enemy turf.

"We are playing good soccer as we approach playoffs, a balanced attack from box to box," said LaCava. "But we need to continue improving on our finishing as we are generating chances every game."

The NMHS coach is quick to praise senior co-captain Sabrina Baxter for her contributions.

"Losing her in the pre season was tough," he said, "but having her on the sideline daily is a lift to the team."

For a third straight season, the Green Wave will head to the postseason as one of the teams to beat.

"The girls are very positive and excited," said LaCava. "We are taking each game as they come, not looking ahead. ... We must continue to work hard at practice and be ready to play each day."

For more photos, visit www.newmilfordspectrum.com.