Thursday, June 24, 2021

Sports

Guilford Girls’ Soccer Battles Past the Uncertainties for Excellent Campaign

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Senior captain Taylor Gambardella and the Guilford girls’ soccer team played their way through the unknowns to produce some outstanding results during the 2020 fall season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain Taylor Gambardella and the Guilford girls’ soccer team played their way through the unknowns to produce some outstanding results during the 2020 fall season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Senior captain Moira Kellaher (right) and the Guilford girls’ soccer squad won eight games and notched three ties this fall, including a 1-0 overtime victory against Branford in the SCC Division B Tournament title game. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain Moira Kellaher (right) and the Guilford girls’ soccer squad won eight games and notched three ties this fall, including a 1-0 overtime victory against Branford in the SCC Division B Tournament title game. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Sophomore Arianna Tomassi (with ball) earned All-SCC Division B honors on behalf of Guilford this fall. Also pictured are junior Taylor Farace (left) and senior captain Lexie Greene (right). File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Sophomore Arianna Tomassi (with ball) earned All-SCC Division B honors on behalf of Guilford this fall. Also pictured are junior Taylor Farace (left) and senior captain Lexie Greene (right). (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Sophomore Kat Baseggio helped the Guilford girls’ soccer team put together another sensational season in its first year with Head Coach Regina Sullivan. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Sophomore Kat Baseggio helped the Guilford girls’ soccer team put together another sensational season in its first year with Head Coach Regina Sullivan. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

Regina Sullivan faced a pretty big challenge in her first year as head coach of the Guilford girls’ soccer program. The COVID-19 pandemic was plaguing the United States, and there was a great deal of uncertainty as to whether or not any team would have a season in the fall.

However, all the uncertainties didn’t stop Coach Sullivan and her team from preparing for what turned out to be an excellent 2020 campaign. Guilford finished the season with an overall record of 8-1-3 and won the SCC Division B Tournament by earning a 1-0 overtime victory versus Branford in the championship game.

After the two sides played scoreless soccer through 80 minutes of regulation, senior captain Moira Kellaher netted the game-winning goal on an assist from sophomore Arianna Tomassi at the 4:14 mark of the overtime period, giving Guilford a 1-0 win over the Hornets. Kellaher said that each player on Guilford’s roster appreciated every second of soccer that they played this season.

“This season was very meaningful, especially for the seniors, knowing it was our last time playing high school soccer,” said Kellaher. “With the pandemic, it was uncertain whether we would even have a season, so the team was very grateful for the opportunity to practice and compete through the fall.”

Kellaher, a midfielder/forward, led Guilford alongside fellow senior captains Taylor Gambardella and Lexie Greene, who played defender and midfielder, respectively. Gambardella echoed Kellaher’s sentiments regarding the team’s appreciation of competing, especially since everyone knew that the season could end at any second.

“There was a great appreciation for the opportunity to play this season. We realized that it could have ended any day due to a positive case or contact tracing,” Gambardella said. “I think we all learned not to take any game or practice for granted. We got to play the game we love with our tight group of teammates.”

Guilford stormed out to a 5-0-2 start to its campaign. The team earned a 1-0 win versus Hand, a 2-2 tie with Hand, a 0-0 tie against Branford, a 12-0 win versus Career-Hillhouse, a 1-0 win against East Haven, and two victories over Wilbur Cross (8-0 and 6-0) during the first half of the regular season.

Guilford dropped a 1-0 decision to Hand on Oct. 27, but that was one and only defeat that the team took for the entire year. Guilford came back to notch a 1-1 draw with East Haven and a 1-0 win against Branford to finish its regular-season slate with a record of 6-1-3.

In the postseason, Guilford had a bye through the first round of the SCC Division B Tournament and then started off the draw by hosting No. 4 seed East Haven for a semifinal contest. Guilford posted a 4-0 shutout over the Yellowjackets and went on to defeat No. 3 Branford by a 1-0 score in overtime in final to take the title.

Since there were no state tournaments this year, Guilford didn’t have a chance to defend the Class L crown that it had claimed in 2019. Still, Kellaher was pleased that the team put together another stellar season that culminated with a divisional championship.

“Beyond having the opportunity to play, this season was also very meaningful because we were able to continue our success from last year,” Kellaher said. “That was a major goal of ours.”

Gambardella was disappointed that there was no opportunity for Guilford to win back-to-back state titles or face some of its familiar foes since teams mostly played nearby opponents throughout the season. However, Gambardella also felt that it was an interesting experience for Guilford to play teams that wouldn’t typically appear on its schedule.

“We came off an amazing season last year winning both the SCC and the Class L state championship, so we were all disappointed to not be able to defend our state title,” said Gambardella. “We missed playing some of the top teams like Cheshire, Mercy, and Shelton, but it was great to play different teams that we would normally not play against.”

Kellaher and Gambardella were named to the All-SCC Division B Team alongside Tomassi and fellow sophomore midfielder Kat Baseggio for their performances on the year. Kellaher was also selected as the SCC Division B Player of the Year. On top of that, Kellaher and Gambardella were both named to the Class L All-State Team.

“Being named All-State and All-Conference was a great individual honor for both Taylor and I,” said Kellaher. “Our entire team was filled with so many talented players, which was why we were able to find so much success the past two seasons in both the SCC and State tournaments.”

In addition to Kellaher, Gambardella, and Greene, Guilford’s senior class also featured Julia Rubbo and Olivia St. Marie, who shared the goalkeeping duties during the year, along with Sophia Gabriel, Kelsey Lynch, Sophie Watrous, Rachael Amatruda, and Sarah Jennings.

Guilford’s junior class included Olivia McMahon, Amelia Rattet, Brenna Fissell, Taylor Farace, Abby Moore, and Gabby Sansone.

Guilford’s sophomores were Baseggio, Tomassi, and Evelina Rini.




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