Girls soccer: Jonathan Law breaking new ground
It's never happened so quickly for the Jonathan Law High girls soccer team.
With its 7-0 blanking over Wilbur Cross of New Haven last Wednesday night, the Lady Lawmen have reached the CIAC Class L state tournament in only seven games.
During a stretch where Law has recorded a 6-0-1 record, coach J.D. Rhode’s squad has scored 29 goals (averaging 4.1 goals a game) and a joy for playing the game seems to be pervasive.”
"We're very happy about how well we're playing," said senior forward Kania Walker, who had two goals against the Governors. "I really don't think that we're surprised at how quickly this happened. We may look loose on the field, but there's always an intensity about our play."
Walker's enthusiasm for the team's success seems to be spreading everywhere. Law built up a quick 3-0 lead on two goals from Jocelyn Wirth and one from Rhea Grant in the game's first 11 minutes.
“We have speed and good technically-skilled players up front, and we've been very well organized defensively," Rhode said. "What we're doing best is getting the ball from the back to the front quickly. Our through-ball play has been excellent."
Wirth's breakaway goal just 1:48 i, gave Law a 1-0 lead. Junior Samara Thacker got her the ball on the wing and Wirth did the rest.
Grant made it a 2-0 game at 37:17, beating Cross keeper Teresa Tamborra Walton (14 saves) on a high-rising shot into the right-hand side of the net. Thacker also assisted on the goal.
Wirth then collected a rebounding shot in front of Walton off of a corner kick and put it home at 28:08 putting Law well on its way to a sixth victory.
Walker closed out the first-half scoring, increasing Law's lead to 4-0, at 16:15.
Law took 32 shots in the game (17 in the first half) while allowing only two, both in the opening 40 minutes. Jillian Hall and Morgan Taylor, both sophomores, didn't have to make a save in earning the shutout.
"Right now, I'd have to say that we're a team without an indentity," said first-year coach Robert Fernandes, a former running back for Kevin Gilbride at Southern Connecticut State University in the 1980s. "We're not a possession team; we're not a physical team and we're not an aerial team."
Fernandes, who coached 10 years in the New Haven Youth Leagues, has some Premier Level players. "We do have kids with some very good individual skills," he said. "The challenge, I suppose like most other high school teams have, is melding those talents. Getting our kids to play as a team, as a unit."
Wirth's goal, at 29:40 of the second half, completed her hat-trick night. She beat Walton on a 25-yard kick from the keeper's left which carried over her head.
"I did, in fact, have my head in the game tonight," said Wirth, who had to sit out portions of the last two games after, yes, getting hit in the head with the ball. "I had lots of energy tonight. This is a total team effort. We're together all the time, from pasta parties right through our team meetings.”
Goals by Grant, who took a throughball and used her speed to finish, and Walker, in the game's final eight minutes were closing factors in the positive result.
"I've learned through experience when to use my speed and when not to," Grant said. "We're really on our way here.”
The Lady Lawmen attempted to keep it going last Monday when they took on Harding of Bridgeport, one of two new members (the other being Bassick, also of Bridgeport) in the Southern Connecticut Conference this year.
Other matches are scheduled with week with city rival Foran (on Wednesday) and with Cheshire on Friday.
Roundup: Law defeated Harding High, 9-0, on Monday. The Lady Lawmen will take a 7-0-1 record into Wednesday’s game with Foran High (3-2-3). Jocelyn Wirth, Rhea Grant, Taylor Kandrach, Cici Lopes, Samara Thacker, Katie Linn, Dominika Michnik, Kiana Walker and Salma Samih scored goals. Grace Wootton, Wirth, Gia Edwards, Walker, Linn and Michelle Montes had assists. Jillian Hall and Morgan Taylor combined on the shutout. Janazha Davis had 18 stops for Harding. Law saw five players score goals in its victory over Hamden High. Walker gave Law a 1-0 lead at the half. Thacker, Edwards, Grant and Madison Butts tallied goals in the second half. Edwards had two assists. Ashley Shaw, Taylor Kandrach and Walker had one assist each. Law out shot Hamden, 16-8. Hall had five saves.