Montville, Stonington girls will meet for a third time in ECC Division II soccer final
Montville — It was at halftime of Tuesday night's game, the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II girls' soccer tournament semifinal, that Montville coach April Parady-Walter asked her team for a little more pace.
“We asked them to think about their tempo,” Parady-Walter said. “It was a little boring to watch. We were bored. We told them that during the half. Right now we need to fine tune things. We're looking for perfection.”
Montville, the top seed, got two goals and an assist from senior Lauren Velazquez to shut out No. 4 Lyman Memorial 4-0. The Indians (14-4) moved on to meet No. 2 Stonington (13-4-1) for the Division II championship at 7 p.m. Thursday, back at Montville, following Stonington's 4-0 semifinal win over No. 3 Tourtellotte.
It's likely there will be no additional fuel necessary for the final, to be played between the two teams which tied for the ECC Division III title.
The Indians and Bears split a pair of one-goal games in the regular season, with Stonington winning 1-0 on Sept. 22 on a goal by Amelia Caron. Montville came back with a 2-1 victory on Oct. 8, with the game-winner coming from Alexis Meehan on an assist by Katelin Price which forged the tie atop the standings.
Montville and Stonington, longtime division rivals even before the ECC's most recent realignment, are ready to settle up.
“It's really exciting. This has kind of been building,” Parady-Walter said. “They beat us early in the season on a corner kick. It was a little wakeup call, like, 'This is not going to be how we play our season.'
“Quite honestly, (both teams are) feisty, both physical. (Stonington) switched over to more possession, when in the past they relied a lot on long balls. … We match up on many marks. Our arsenal is pretty similar, our drive to win. We both have athletes on the team. We have competitiveness in the blood.”
Montville led 2-0 at halftime against Lyman, getting a goal from Oliva Meehan assisted by Velazquez, whom Parady-Walter calls “Vegas” due to her initials and her flash, and a header by Velazquez past talented Lyman freshman goalie Morgan Tartaglia.
“It was an unusual height for me because I'm smaller,” Velazquez said. “So I headed it in.”
Velazquez and Meehan added goals in the second half, with Meehan assisted by freshman Julia Beaupre. Montville outshot Lyman 20-1.
Parady-Walter credits Velazquez, whose twin brother Tyler plays for the Montville boys' team, with infusing Montville with a bit of feistiness. Velazquez played in the back as a freshman and sophomore before moving forward.
"A little bit more sassy, I guess," Velazquez said. "(Even as a freshman), I remember thinking, 'Maybe I shouldn't (say anything), but I still did. ... There will be a lot of familiar faces (against Stonington). Let's go. It will be a tough game. We'll have to be in it right away."
For Stonington, with a result mirroring Montville's, sophomore Vanessa Benjamin opened the scoring about seven minutes in on a breakaway and then assisted Megan Detwiler seven and a half minutes later. Kaleigh Bolduc scored on a cross from Alex Jefson as the Bears led Division IV champion Tourtellotte 3-0 at halftime.
Benjamin added a bouncing goal in the second half for the final margin, while Tori LoPresto and Hannah Lamb combined for three saves in the shutout.
"Some great athletes and some great soccer players," said Stonington coach Jen Solomon, in her first year coaching the team. "Just a great group of girls who were ready. They came in and worked every day. They were loving it (the changes brought by Solomon); they were having great success with it."
Like Parady-Walter, Solomon spent the second half of Tuesday's game harping on the smallest details, fine-tuning.
"This is the matchup we've anticipated," Solomon said of what will be the third meeting with Montville. "It's really exciting. This game gives us a good challenge. ... Both teams try to play soccer, a tic-tac-toe. Both teams are going to create great opportunities and the team that wins will be whoever makes the most of them."
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