Hornets Beat Hand in Divisional Semis, Lose to Guilford in Final
Junior captain Kendall Infantino and the Branford girls’ soccer team overcome plenty of challenges to reach the SCC Division B final in 2020. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
The Branford girls’ soccer squad notched an exciting victory versus Daniel Hand to advance to the championship game of the SCC Division B Tournament last week. Even though her team wound up taking an overtime loss against Guilford in the final, Head Coach Jen Kohut feels proud about everything that the Hornets accomplished throughout a challenging 2020 season.
Branford entered the SCC Division B Tournament as the No. 3 seed and played a road game against 2nd-seeded Hand in the semifinal round on Nov. 11. With the two sides locked in scoreless tie with three minutes left in the game, freshman Tess Ferrie buried the only goal of the day to give the Hornets a 1-0 lead that held up as the final score. Junior goalie Macey Girard made eight saves to help Branford get the victory and make its way into the final.
“It was an amazing game. That was the best game that the girls played all year. Everyone from top to bottom,” Coach Kohut said. “We were hard-pressed to find one player that stood out. Macey and Tess split the Player of the Game for us. We gave them a special pinny that they could put their name on after the game. It was the best game all year from this group.”
Two days later, Branford squared off against No. 1 seed Guilford in the Division B final at Guilford High School. The two teams had played twice during the regular season, resulting in a 0-0 tie and a 1-0 Guilford win. Coming off of their victory versus Hand, the Hornets went into the championship with the mindset that they deserved to be there and had the potential to earn the win.
Branford and Guilford were knotted at 0-0 through 80 minutes of regulation. Four minutes into the first overtime period, Guilford scored the winning goal that gave the team the title.
Girard made 14 saves in net for the Hornets, who finished at 6-4-2 for the season. Branford only played 13 athletes for the entire game, but Kohut said that all 13 players gave every ounce of energy they had.
“I played 13 girls the whole game. They could have been tired in the second half, but it was the championship—they battled through it,” said Kohut. “Guilford got a few good opportunities and were able to score.”
Branford made its run to the championship game with a young roster in which only one senior—outside back Kathryn Amarante—was a starter. Branford’s senior class also includes Madelyn Seward, Ashley Duong, Noor Issa, and Jennifer Hincapie.
The Hornets’ two captains are juniors Girard and center back Kendall Infantino. Going forward, Coach Kohut is expecting players like sophomore Ava Ferrie and freshmen Tess Ferrie and Lucy Moran to continue bolstering the team’s offense.
On the defensive end of pitch, freshmen Emma O’Connor and Madeline Resendes saw plenty of playing time during their debut campaigns, and Coach Kohut expects them to get more and more minutes as their careers unfold. Fellow freshmen Joelle Budz and Brenna Murphy also saw major minutes this fall.
Coach Kohut believes that all of her returning athletes will be eager to help Branford have another solid season in 2021.
“They’re hungry. They’ll be ready for the next challenge when it comes,” Kohut said. “This is a tight-knit group. We have two junior captains who did a great job. Both of them did a really great job on and off the field. They kept everyone together and led by example. It was the whole team working together, which was really nice.”
Coach Kohut credited the athletes on her team for challenging each other in practice every day. Following the loss in the divisional final, Kohut met with her players one last time and told them that she was proud of them and honored to work with them. As Branford played through a season that featured plenty of uncertainties, Kohut said that the Hornets never flinched and battled all the way to the end.
“It was a little piece of normalcy,” said Kohut. “We never got shut down because of quarantine. The kids took care of themselves. It was a pleasure to coach this group. I can’t say enough great things about them.”
The athletes in the Branford girls’ soccer program are seniors Madelyn Seward, Kathryn Amarante, Ashley Duong, Noor Issa, and Jennifer Hincapie; junior captains Macey Girard and Kendall Infantino; juniors Hilla Seunarine, Ajla Mehmedovic, Zaide Schlesinger, Veronica Smith, Caroline Spaulding, Meghan Heier, and Katelyn Robbins; sophomores Molly Pombo, Ava Ferrie, Leila Omeragic, Samantha Stroka, Jennifer Spencer, and Ava Dombrowski; and freshmen Tess Ferrie, Brenna Murphy, Emma O’Connor, Chayse Gueco, Sophia Mioline, Madeline Resendes, Paige Selander, Joelle Budz, and Lucy Moran.