Mills girls get off to fast start in Class M tourney
Corinne Morrow (8) score for Lewis Mills in its 4-0 victory over Griswold to open the Class M Tournament
BURLINGTON - The Lewis Mills girls soccer team took a different path than usual but is in a familiar spot and ready to make another post season run.
The third-seeded Spartans opened the Class M state tournament with a convincing 4-0 victory over No. 30 Griswold out of the ECC on Monday at Nassahegan Field. Mills (15-2) advances to a second round matchup with No. 19 Morgan (9-6-2) on Wednesday. A win there and the Spartans would be in the quarterfinals against No. 22 Northwestern, a team they have beaten twice this season, or No. 27 New Fairfield.
In the last four state tournaments Mills has been to the semifinals twice and the quarters once. The last two seasons it has taken double overtime to eliminate the Spartans and they lost to the eventual state champion in 2012 (semis against Northwest Catholic) and 2014 (semis against East Catholic).
This season the Spartans look primed for another solid tournament run but not exactly in the same way as years past. The 2016 season has included a coaching change and a wake-up call loss and Mills appears to have grown from both.
Coach Dennis Fowler took leave of the team in late September and on came athletic director David Francalangia in his place. It appeared to be business as usual despite the chance as the Spartans got off to an 8-0 stare but then a humbling 5-1 loss at Nonnewaug flipped the script. A tough 3-2 loss in overtime at Housatonic followed two games later but the Spartans ripped off five straight wins to close out the regular season and that included a 2-1 victory over the Chiefs in the regular season finale.
On Monday Mill wasted no time taking control of the game as Julia Robillard opened the scoring three minutes into the contest and Mills made it 2-0 with 29 minutes left in the opening half on a goal by Corinne Morrow.
The Spartans controlled possession and the run of play for the remainder of the first half but were never able to put another one home and led 2-0 at the break.
"We possessed the ball through and through and we need to stay a little more composed up front," Francalangia said. "There goalie made a bunch of good saves but I think we could have added a couple more."
Mills did add a couple more in the second half courtesy of senior Rachel Hedden, who extinguished any thoughts the Wolverines had of a comeback with a goal just over three minutes into the second half. Hedden added her second tally of the game with 28 minutes to go to cap the scoring.
Mills now hosts Morgan and a win would mean another home contest in the quarterfinal round. There may have been some concerns back in September, but everything seems to be going the Spartans' way at the most important time of the year.
"I feel very confident moving ahead," Francalangia said. "I think when I came on initially there were some trust concerns. It took them a couple weeks for them to buy into my system and for me to know what I had in them as players and get to know the girls.
"We are peaking at the right time,. We are looking forward to having a nice run, the girls are in a great mood, relaxed and calm and cool. We just need to be a little more patient up front and we can do some wonderful things over the next week."