No. 1 Immaculate ousts Old Lyme in S semis
West Haven - Not like there wasn't enough history between the Old Lyme and Immaculate of Danbury high school girls' soccer teams already. The Wildcats and Mustangs were meeting for the 10th time in the last 20 state tournaments, including three finals.
But, then, what's one more dramatic chapter.
Top-seeded Immaculate won Friday night's Class S state semifinal game at West Haven High School 1-0, beating No. 4 Old Lyme on a penalty kick by Natalia Diaz with 8 minutes, 33 seconds remaining and sending the Mustangs to the state championship game next weekend where they will attempt to win their 10th title.
Immaculate, 19-1-2 with a 21-game unbeaten streak, will play the winner of today's other semifinal between No. 2 Litchfield and No. 3 Portland. The Mustangs have allowed just six goals all season.
Diaz was awarded the penalty kick for an Old Lyme hand ball in the penalty area, tipping what was otherwise an evenly matched game in favor of the Mustangs.
"The game could have gone either way, but to lose it on a penalty kick … on a bad call penalty kick. It hit her up here," first-year Old Lyme coach Paul Gleason said, pointing to his sternum. "We've been in better spirits before."
"We played our best. There's nothing you can do about that last call," Old Lyme junior midfielder Hannah Behringer said. "We came out, we knew it was a big game and we played our hearts out."
Beginning in 1992, Old Lyme and Immaculate have faced off in four quarterfinals, two semifinals and three finals, with Old Lyme going 0-9-1. The lone exception to the loss column was the 2009 state championship game, a title shared by the teams after a 1-1 tie in the final career game for longtime Old Lyme coach Don Desautels.
The last meeting before Friday night came in 2010, a 5-4 Immaculate victory in the Class S quarterfinals.
Immaculate coach Nelson Mingachos was a part of a number of those games and predicted Friday the rivalry will continue with both teams featuring lineups dominated by underclassmen.
"You get in the state tournament and you know you're going to see Old Lyme," Mingachos said. "Seeing six or seven freshmen for us out there at a time and (Old Lyme) is young, too."
The game started a half-hour late after Old Lyme's bus was caught in a traffic jam created by a car accident on I-95.
Old Lyme came out firing, however, generating a few early opportunities. The Wildcats, though, suffered an injury to left defensive back Aggie Forstein, who was carried off the field with 15:50 to go in the first half and did not return.
Old Lyme's defense remained strong in the second half, with sweeper Jessica Lee heading off one Immaculate breakaway and freshman goalie Tori Sims racing to pick up a loose ball in front of the net.
With the Wildcats trailing 1-0, Behringer had two scoring opportunities in the final minute and a half, the last one on a free kick from about 20 yards out on the right sideline with 30 seconds remaining.
Old Lyme, which did not qualify for the state tournament last season, finished 14-4-1.
"The entire season surprised me," said Behringer, who was named the Shoreline Conference Player of the Year. "I didn't think we were going to be bad, but I had no idea we were going to make it to the state semifinals. It's still amazing how far we made it."
It was Immaculate's second 1-0 victory, hanging on to beat Old Saybrook in overtime in the quarterfinals despite outshooting the Rams 31-0. Old Lyme defeated St. Bernard 4-1 to reach the semifinals.
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