Old Lyme girls go right on the attack and beat East Lyme
East Lyme — Keelin Hurtt would later refer to it as the biggest game of the season.
Not that Old Lyme High School girls' soccer coach Paul Gleason would necessarily agree with that, given that the Wildcats still have 15 regular-season games to play, plus a Class S state championship to defend (two of them, actually).
"The girls were pretty pumped up about this," Gleason said. "We told them it's just a game."
Not that Gleason was displeased with the caliber of his team's play in its season opener Saturday night.
Hurtt scored twice, Maddie Ouellette added a goal with 13 seconds remaining and Old Lyme blanked East Lyme 3-0 in the first game of a girls' and boys' soccer doubleheader between the schools.
Old Lyme is also the defending Shoreline Conference champion. East Lyme is the defending Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I and ECC tournament champion, but in what coach Rachel Redding calls a rebuilding year without three Division I players her team graduated a year ago, including 42-goal scorer Stephanie deLaforcade.
"Right when we get off the bus, we always circle up," Hurtt said of Old Lyme, which lost to East Lyme on opening day the first three years of her career. "We asked everyone, if they can't work hard for themselves, work hard for us. ... This is the first game, but we really flowed. We found our niche.
"We've all been itching in our seats. We have been waiting for this game since last year's East Lyme game."
It was the first game for Old Lyme since last year's 1-0 victory over Old Saybrook for the Class S title the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The Wildcats graduated all-state forward Jenna Peduzzi and championship game MVP Caleigh O'Neil from that team.
Gleason's team looked at ease in its opener, however, with Mya Johnson feeding Hurtt, an all-state midfielder last year, on the right side for a goal 7 minutes, 26 seconds in, hitting the opposite corner of the net. It was 1-0 at the half before Hurtt struck again 11 minutes into the second half from about 20 yards out on a through ball from freshman Kaylee Armenia.
The Wildcats incorporated Armenia nicely into the front line, as well as new goalie Emily Rivera, who was a position player last year.
Redding, meanwhile, called the game a good gauge of where her team needs to improve.
"It's always fun when you get new players. We'll make it happen," Redding said. "I saw a lot of great stuff. Most of these girls haven't played varsity before and then you come out against Old Lyme ... it's a scary thing. We had a few hiccups.
"Old Lyme is a great team. They're just really, really good. But where we are today is not where we're going to end up. We're working it out. Our combinations will come. My girls are here to work hard."
East Lyme begins ECC Division I play at home Monday against NFA. Old Lyme has a Shoreline game at home Tuesday against Morgan, which is what Gleason would prefer to focus on.
"It was OK," Gleason said of Saturday's victory. "It was nice having the girls be able to put their combination passes together. But we have a whole season in front of us."
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