Foran edged out by Bunnell
The Foran High girls soccer team continued to build this season, following up a 3-0 win over Lyman Hall with a solid effort against SWC powerhouse Bunnell of Stratford on Saturday night.
The visiting Lions went toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs for 40 minutes before a pair of goals early in the second half gave the hosts a 2-0 win.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said Foran coach Casey Blake. “The scoreboard doesn’t tell the true story. My girls really worked hard and focused on the things we’ve been working on as a team, which is play to feet, possess the ball and being aware of your space and I think we did that pretty well.”
The Foran (2-7) defense of Lindsay Broderick, Kimberly Simko, Alexia Malangone, Jessica Black and keeper Carly Pala starred in the first 20 minutes as Bunnell (4-3-3) controlled the ball on the local’s side of the field.
Simko and Malangone were stout in the center of the defense, forcing a couple good scoring opportunities for the Bulldogs to miss the mark.
Pala (7 saves) started her solid showing between the posts by staring down a close shot inside the box at the 15th minute and snagging it out of the air.
Midway through the half, Foran cranked up its attack as midfielders Julianna Petrucelli, Sabrina Morgan and Kali Borden won balls in the center circle and started feeding Maggie-Marie Myers, Kayla Newall and Cassondra Zak with searching boots downfield.
The pressure yielded scoring opportunities.
Borden displayed great footwork in the 18th minute, dribbling past her defender on the left wing and then dropping a pass to Petrucelli for a solid shot from 30 yards out.
Monica Malangone came in the game with 15 minutes left in the half and kept the offensive spark alive, using her imposing height to aggressively possess the ball. Her strong play earned her a turnaround shot with two minutes left in the half.
The Bulldogs came out of the intermission with renewed vigor, starting with a breakaway opportunity mere seconds into the restart.
Pala was ready for the challenge, charging off her goal line to bat away the one-on-one shot from Ashley O’Neill with a diving save.
Less than a minute later, she stymied Bunnell again by corralling a sharp one-timer off a corner kick.
The Bulldogs finally cracked Foran’s defense in the 42nd minute when Kacie O’Neill skipped a pass across the penalty box to Alyssa Velez for a goal.
Bunnell tried to quickly tack on one more, but Alexia Malangone blocked a shot on goal with her chest, and Pala again swooped off her line to stump Kacie O’Neill on a breakaway.
“Carly played amazing,” Blake said. “I’m proud of the whole team, but Carly made some spectacular saves. She gets kicked and doesn’t care. She’s up and ready for the next ball.”
Foran couldn’t move the ball up field and Bunnell took advantage of its time on the Foran side as Kacie O’Neill led Velez on a breakaway goal with 30 minutes left in the game.
Aggressive play by Zak and Newall gave Foran a boost midway through the second half.
In the 66th minute, Zak displayed impressive stamina, outrunning the Bunnell defense for a loose ball and then snapping a good cross to Newall streaking in from the right.
The senior striker ripped a liner that was just punched away by Bunnell keeper Hannah Caldwell (7 saves). Zak charged the deflection, but her one-time attempt went over the crossbar.
“We’ll take it one day at the time,” Blake said of the rest of the team’s season. “I don’t like to set far off, into the distance goals, so I hope we can take this momentum of playing really hard and carry it on to our next game.”
Foran defeated Lyman Hall of Wallingford, 3-0, on Oct. 4.
Kala Borden, assisted by Jules Petrucelli, gave the Lions a 1-0 lead in the first half.
Cassondra Zak, with Borden getting the assist, made it 2-0 at the break.
Kayla Newell’s tally off a Lindsay Broderick assist completed the scoring, as Foran improved to 2-6.
Carly Pala had 21 saves.
Foran lost to West Haven, 4-1, on Oct. 1.
Emilia Wielogorski scored the goal and Alexia Malangone had the assist.
Pala stopped 21 shots by the Westies (3-3-1).