Lyman Memorial wins in OT, advances to first Class S girls’ soccer title game
Waterbury — Lyman Memorial coach Mark Morello was listing his team’s comebacks this season.
It was late Wednesday night, after the Bulldogs’ 3-1 double-overtime victory over Portland on only the biggest stage, the semifinals of the Class S girls’ soccer state tournament, and the tears streamed down the face of Morello, the team’s 34th-year head coach.
“That’s the way we’ve been. They had it in ‘em,” Morello said. “They’re not that deep but they answered the call. ... I can’t talk.”
Top-seeded Lyman (19-1-1) advanced to the first state championship game in program history, where it will face No. 2 East Catholic either Saturday or Sunday at Trinity Health Stadium in Hartford. East Catholic defeated No. 3 Thomaston 2-1 in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Lyman got the game-tying goal by freshman Emily McKelvey, who moved from sweeper to the front line in the second half, with just 7 minutes, 51 seconds remaining.
That forced overtime, which features two 10-minute sessions played in their entirety no matter how many goals are scored during that time.
Lyman, now rolling, got a goal from sophomore Avery Volle with 6:49 to play in the first overtime and another from senior Magda Carpenter with 3:30 remaining in the first OT, still leaving 13:30 worth of nervous moments.
Lyman previously played in the Class S semifinals in 2006.
No. 20 Portland, meanwhile, was looking to make its first championship appearance since 2014 when it won the Class S title and it played a first half which made it appear destined to return to the finals.
In the first half, Portland scored almost immediately, getting a goal at the 6:58 mark from Ava Maselek, stemming from a throw-in.
Lyman had a handful of scoring chances before that, including a shot by Leah Comeroski which necessitated a diving save by Portland goalie Lauren Eckert, but the Highlanders had the better part of play, forcing Lyman to play defensively.
To start the second half, however, Lyman flipped the field, generating some offensive opportunities beginning with a corner kick 11 minutes in and dominating the time of possession.
Carpenter had a direct kick miss just wide left at 26:30 and Carpenter put another shot on goal a few minutes later when she won the ball one-on-one against a defender and unleashed a ball toward Eckert.
McKelvey followed with a solid free kick and the Bulldogs kept the pressure on the Highlanders until McKelvey finally broke the scoring drought, chipping a ball past the goalie from right to left.
“We were just off,” Morello said of the first half. “We just played too much kickball. We spent the first 40 minutes chasing them.”
Morello said he’s never had a freshman play sweeper before, calling McKelvey “a talented soccer player.”
“I loved her in the back,” Morello said of moving McKelvey forward. “I loved her even more in the front.”
Lyman earlier won the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II tournament with a 2-1 victory over Plainfield, getting the game-winner from Becca Ziegler with 37.9 seconds left.
The Bulldogs then got to the Class S semis with a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over No. 9 Bolton on Saturday, winning the penalty kick round 3-1 behind goalie Phoebe Carpenter.