Thursday, March 04, 2021

Sports

Hornets Post 1-0 Shutout Over East Haven in 2020 Opener

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Sophomore Ava Ferrie hit a penalty kick in the first half that lifted the Branford girls’ soccer squad to a 1-0 win over East Haven in its first game of the 2020 season. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

Sophomore Ava Ferrie hit a penalty kick in the first half that lifted the Branford girls’ soccer squad to a 1-0 win over East Haven in its first game of the 2020 season. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

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Kendall Infantino is leading the Branford girls’ soccer team alongside fellow junior captain Macey Girard this fall. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

Kendall Infantino is leading the Branford girls’ soccer team alongside fellow junior captain Macey Girard this fall. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

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Junior captain goalie Macey Girard made a clutch save during the first half and went on to get the shutout when the Hornets blanked against East Haven on Oct. 1. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

Junior captain goalie Macey Girard made a clutch save during the first half and went on to get the shutout when the Hornets blanked against East Haven on Oct. 1. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

After waiting out a long offseason in anticipation of a potential Opening Day game, the Branford girls’ soccer team saw its patience pay off at the 24:35 mark of the first half when it faced East Haven on Oct. 1. After the Hornets drew a foul, sophomore Ava Ferrie lined up to take a penalty kick and sent her shot past the Yellowjackets’ goalkeeper to give Branford a one-goal edge that proved the difference in the game.

The Hornets held on for a 1-0 home victory versus crosstown rival East Haven in their first game of the 2020 season. Head Coach Jen Kohut said that the atmosphere on the field was electric after Ferrie converted her PK.

“They were really, really fired up. It was fantastic,” said Kohut. “It was electric. It really was a great moment.”

Kohut was impressed with her team’s defense throughout the shutout victory. Kohut noted junior captain Kendall Infantino, who plays center back, as being a leader on the field, and said that she made a huge impact in the win. Kohut added that Branford’s other junior captain, goalkeeper Macey Girard, made a first-half save that was worthy of a spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.

“It should have been on the ESPN highlight reel,” Kohut said. “East Haven took a shot, and she started sprinting back. She dove backwards into the goal and, as the ball was coming at the goal line, she pushed it out of the goal. She got tangled up in the net, and our other defenders were clearing the ball out. It was a pretty exciting moment. It was awesome that she did that. She is a really smart player.”

Heading into halftime, Coach Kohut knew that tensions were high as the Hornets were locked in a close matchup with their rival. Her message at the break was for Branford to be aggressive and try to put more shots in the back of the net.

Although the Hornets didn’t score a goal in the second half, they kept East Haven off the board and walked off the field with a 1-0 victory in their season opener. While Coach Kohut was excited that Branford earned a win in its first game, she was equally excited to see the Hornets to take the field, following all the uncertainties of the recent offseason.

“After everything we’ve been through, it was really nice to be out on the field,” Kohut said. “It’s always nice to start the season with a win. It felt great.”

Kohut noted the Hornets’ ability to come together as a team during the offseason. Even with all the twists and turns, Kohut said that her players were able to mesh and stay together through everything.

“Once we were able to get in, we just went into protocol,” said Kohut. “It was difficult to not be able to scrimmage and have full-contact practice in the beginning, but I really think it helped us with our skills overall. We had so much time to focus on our skills. It was stressful in the beginning, but once we got on the field, it was great.”

Branford started six freshmen in its win against East Haven. With a young lineup, Coach Kohut commended the team’s senior leaders, including center back Kathryn Amarante, for helping the freshman starters learn the ropes and become game-ready in a short amount of time.

Branford has a home game versus Daniel Hand and road games against Career-Hillhouse and Wilbur Cross on this week’s schedule. Coach Kohut said the Hornets will be focusing on their offense at practice as they look to capitalize on their victory versus East Haven. Most importantly, though, Kohut wants her athletes to appreciate their opportunity to be on the field.

“Keep the energy level up every day. Enjoy every day that we get to play,” said Kohut. “We don’t know how long we are going to play. Every day, take it as another day that we have and continue to work hard.”



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