Old Lyme girls beat Holy Cross 2-1 in 2 OTs to win Class S soccer title
Middletown — Paul Gleason opened his hand and showed reporters two coins.
"I was walking across the field (years ago before a game) and I found a quarter," said Gleason, the Old Lyme girls' soccer coach. "I said to a girl, 'Oh, jeez, I found a quarter on the field that's good luck.' We (won). ... Ever since then, whenever it's game day, I've always looked for change on the ground.
"I'm not a (superstitious) guy."
Gleason's small treasure was topped by a team he treasures as much as any he's coached.
Maddie Ouellette scored the game-tying goal with 24 minutes left in regulation of against Holy Cross, and Mya Johnson headed in the go-ahead goal late in the first overtime in Saturday's CIAC Class S championship match.
Old Lyme 2, Holy Cross 1.
Gleason's 100th win.
"This is a great group of kids," Gleason said. "(This was the) best season. I've had so many terrific players. They're running through my mind now, all the great kids that I've had the luxury of coaching.
"I have to tell you this was the sweetest victory (of) any team I've ever coached. ... The 2013 Shoreline Conference championship and this one were the sweetest victories."
It's the fourth state championship for top-seeded Old Lyme (21-1) and its second straight outright title. The Wildcats shared the Class S title with Notre Dame of Fairfield in 2015, and Immaculate in 2009.
"This has been the most fun season so far," said Johnson, the game MVP. "We all love each other. We all play well together. It's like a family. We really are. This is the closest Old Lyme girls' soccer (team) in my three years of playing. Everyone is nice on the field. Everyone is nice off the field. There's no hidden beefs."
Holy Cross, the second seed, finished 16-4-3.
"That was the best team we've faced all year long for sure," Crusaders coach Phil Mongelluzzo said. "They're skilled at every position. They know what they want to do with the ball when they receive the ball, and they've got a great idea how to score. And their chances are calculated chances. They don't take any risks on the counter."
Gleason said, "The Holy Cross team, they're young. They're going to be here next year."
Gleason paused as he noticed Mongelluzzo walking across the field to leave and yelled, "We'll see you next year, same time."
"It was a pleasure playing against a team that has 10 players that are very good," Gleason continued. "When you play a (playoff) game, you don't want to play a game against a team that is weak and gets there on a fluke, on penalty kicks. You want to play a team that's going to push your players as hard as (they) can and justify the victory at the end.
"This (championship) is justification."
Holy Cross caught a lucky break when the Wildcats were whistled for a hand touch in the box less than nine minutes into the second half.
Junior Adalisse Padilla scored to give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
It was been there, done that for Old Lyme.
"It's happened to us before," said Ouellette. "We were down 2-0 (to Notre Dame in the 2015 Class S final) and we came back and tied it.
"It was nothing new in this type of environment and this type of game. We have the ability to get back up. We knew we could do it."
Ouellette scored twice with 24 minutes left in that 2015 final.
She came through again Saturday after senior Madeline Zrenda's direct kick from 40 yards out bounced off Holy Cross goalie Emma Devico and caromed off the post. Ouellette kicked in a rebound with over 24 minutes remaining in regulation.
"I knew that most of the time if (the ball) doesn't get to get one of us first, it will go over us and go right into the goalkeeper's hands," said Ouellette, who played with a heavy cast on her left arm after breaking her wrist in Tuesday's semifinals.
"So I knew I had to kind of wiggle my way in front of the goalie a little bit. I had jumped up and I had touched it, but she stopped it and it hit the goal post. I didn't just tip it in. I nailed it in."
Johnson said, "Maddie O is everywhere. So much credit to her. She doesn't stop."
Johnson, of course, came through with the go-ahead goal. She headed in a corner kick by junior Danielle McCarthy with four minutes, 47 seconds left in the first overtime.
"I know that some people are kind of iffy about using their head," Johnson said, "but I think that's when you've got to take advantage and you really have to step up."
It was Johnson's 33rd goal of the season.
"Amazing," Ouellette said about Johnson. "She can touch the ball and she gets it in there somehow, some way. I don't know how, but she gets it and she gets the job done."
Johnson said, "I just kind of worked on my headers and worked on that pinpoint accuracy. I've had so many headers in the past season on goal, but none of them have gone in, so it was a really great way to end the season."
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