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As a former goal keeper, first-year Foran High girls soccer head coach Casey Blake loves the way the Lions’ Carly Pala, a sophomore, handles the challenge in goal.
Pala led the charge and set the tone when the Lions opened their home season with a 4-2 victory over East Haven at the Vito DeVito Sports Complex on Sept. 19.
Pala made 17 saves with slide blocks and leaps to near the top of the net.
Her team gave her the goal support, then when the Yellow Jackets rallied in the second half, a stout defense and Pala stood their ground.
“Carly is daring,” said Blake, a goalie at Foran (1996-2000) who went on to play at Eastern Connecticut and has taken over a program which won one game in the 2011 season.
“Sometimes, she scares me. But, she’s aggressive. That’s how I want our entire team to play. She wants to own that 18-yard box. As soon as the ball gets there, she wants it. It’s hers.”
Foran jumped out quickly against East Haven.

A mix-up in the Easties’ defense allowed Christine Pala (Carly’s sister) an opportunity and the senior cashed in, scoring at the 3:14 mark.
Kayla Newell, a junior forward who plays alongside of senior Maggie Meyers, made it 2-0 in the 29th minute when she corralled a loose ball and put it past East Haven’s keeper, Emily Kuzma.
Foran’s start was noticed by East Haven coach Ray Curren, who moved over to the shoreline school after many seasons at Hamden’s Sacred Heart Academy.
“Soccer is a such possession game that when you fall behind that early, and by two goals, you’re fighting an uphill battle the rest of the way,” Curren said. “It’s not like basketball where you can fall behind by 10 or 12 points and still come back.”
Curren’s team, however, did rally in the second half.
After falling behind 3-0 when Foran’s Kali Borden converted off of Jules Petrucelli’s corner kick at 25:25, the Easties got goals from Nicole Avena (10:54) and Briana Fitzsimmons (9:00) and found themselves only a score down.
But Foran came back, taking a 4-2 lead at 7:23. Emilia Wieglogorski, coming off the bench, finished off yet another corner kick. This one came from Borden.
“I’m always telling our players that they’ve got to ready,” Blake said. “Emilia’s goal was the perfect example of a player being there at the right time. That was her moment and she capitalized on it.”
In addition to Newell and Meyers, junior Val Pozdynakova started up front.
Blake had Petrucelli in the midfield along with Borden and Christine Pala.
Foran’s backs were Hadley Whittaker, Alexia Malangone and Alex Librandi.
Senior co-captain Claire Torento was the sweeper. The other co-captain is Christine Pala.
“I think I have an advantage coaching this team because I’ve been in the program,” Blake said. “Not a lot of people know what Foran soccer is.
“We haven’t even gotten on the map yet. Most people can’t even pronounce the school’s name correctly. We want to change that.”
Blake feels that the team will get there through zealous play and by adhering to a team concept.
“We have a team here, not a group of individual players,” she said. “Hopefully, that will be what sets us apart.”
Alyssa Pudill scored two goals and had an assist when Foran defeated Derby High, in a non-conference road game on Saturday.
Meyer scored unassisted at the 10-minute mark before Pudill gave the Lions (2-1-1) a 2-0 lead at the half with a tally in the 25th minute.
Petrucelli scored, off an assist by Pudill, four minutes into the second half.
Pudill tallied six minutes later before Borden completed the scoring unassisted in the 75th minute.
Samantha Mitchell stopped five shots by Derby (0-5).
Foran lost a 4-0 decision to Guilford on Friday.
Carly Pala made 13 saves.