East Catholic edges Lyman Memorial 1-0 in Class S girls’ soccer final
Hartford — It was minutes after Lyman Memorial in the CIAC Class S girls’ soccer finals on a frigid, windy Sunday afternoon when Mark Morello, who had just completed his 34th season as head coach, was asked how he was after the loss.
“After 34 years, on top of the world,” Morello said with a smile, referencing the fact it was his and the program’s first state final.
East Catholic’s Sydney Ledoux scored with 2 minutes, 39 seconds in the half and that was all the No. 2 Eagles needed as they beat the top-seeded Bulldogs, 1-0, at Trinity Health Stadium.
“We didn’t win it but it’s not a one-game deal,” Morello said. “These guys took me on a great ride this year. I thank them all.”
The final was a culmination of a season of firsts for Lyman (19-2-1). It won the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II tournament championship earlier in the month, the program’s first tournament title.
“It was a great season overall,” Bulldogs senior captain Magda Carpenter said. “It was one to remember and I think we all worked our hardest.”
Sophomore goalie Phoebe Carpenter had eight saves for Lyman.
Morello and his Bulldogs were aware of just how tough the Eagles (18-1-1) would be. While school-size isn’t everything, Lyman has an enrollment of 177 girls, placing it 154th out of 182 schools.
East Catholic, while having an enrollment of 182 girls, does have the luxury of being a school of choice.
“It’s an all-star team,” Morello said when asked what made East Catholic so tough. “I’m not going to mince words.
“I’ll take my homegrown family any day of the week. They really came out to play. I’m so proud of them.”
The Eagles hadn’t lost since their season-opener against Tolland, 5-0 (Sept. 8).
“They were so good,” Carpenter said. “They protect the ball (well). I’m just proud of how we came out. We never gave up.”
Ledoux was named game MVP while junior Marina Juna had eight saves for the Eagles. It was their second state championship, their first being the 2014 Class M title.
The game’s lone goal came in transition with Ledoux bringing the bringing the ball into the penalty box from the right side and shooting seconds later to the left for a goal.
“I thought we played, overall, a really, really good game,” Morello said. “It was that transition and not putting pressure on the ball. We talked all week about pressuring. They’ve (East Catholic) got three dynamite center mids and they can finish, so if we don’t start stopping somewhere near midfield, we’re going to probably have trouble. I think that was started 60 yards away.”
Lyman had its chances and applied some pressure late but couldn’t score.
“We’re not the biggest (team),” Morello said, “but I’ll put my money on that family (the team) right there.
“(As) they walk off the field, I hope they know what they accomplished this year. It was a great season and they should hold their heads up high because they played hard and did a good job against an excellent opponent, and they have nothing to be ashamed of. It was a great job by them.”
Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.