Steady Spartans get a goal by D'Oca and a spot in Class M semis
BURLINGTON - On a wind blown night at Nassahegan Field the Lewis Mills girls soccer team got a complete effort to book yet another trip to the Class M semifinals.
Playing her final game under the lights at the Nass, Eliana D'Oca netted the game's only goal about midway through the first half and the third-seeded Spartans were able to hold off No. 27 New Fairfield, 1-0, in a Class M quarterfinal matchup on Friday night.
Lewis Mills (17-2) advances to the Class M semifinals with the victory where it will face another SWC team in Immaculate. The 15th-seeded Mustangs (11-3-5) defeated defending Class M champion Northwest Catholic, 3-1, in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon. The Spartans have now advanced to the state semis for the third time in five seasons. In the last two state semifinal trips Lewis Mills has lost to the eventual state champion in 2012 (Northwest Catholic) and 2014 (East Catholic). Now Mills can prep for a Monday meeting with Immaculate and jope the third time is the charm.
The Spartans have won eight straight and outscored the opposition 31-2 in that span. If they can stretch the win streak to 10, they will capture the schools first, and long awaited state title.
"I've coached many years and to get to the semifinals the first year coaching girls is a blessing and a testament to these girls accepting me coming into coach and they are a special group," Mills coach David Francalangia said. "The sky is the limit for them, they are incredible."
D'Oca provided all the scoring Mills would need off a corner. The Spartans played it back and sent a low ball into the box. After getting knocked around by a few different players D'Oca got a good foot on it and slotted home the all important first goal.
"Everyone was battling and keeping the ball alive and it just came to me and I was able to put it in," D'Oca said. "It was great, being one of the seniors, our last home game, it's great to get the win and go to the semifinals."
The wind made it tough on both teams but the Spartans were able to generate more chances and were a touch unlucky not to add an insurance goal or two in the second half.
"We just wanted to try and play our game and trying to do that with the wind was a bit of a challenge tonight," Francalangia said. "The ball was spinning all over the place and I give it up to them they were aggressive and well disciplined and are very well coached."
The Rebels added an attacker but it never resulted in much of a threat. The Mills backline stood strong, the midfield controlled the ball and runs down the flanks kept New Fairfield on the defensive rather than being able to mount a rally. Maggie Hannon, Cally Roy, Brooklyn Murdick, Elena Escobar and goalie Lauren McCard anchored the defense while Hannah Anderson and Chloe Waldron controlled the midfield and Jazzy Sztyler-Magee and Rachel Hedden kept the pressure on the Rebels with runs in the final third.
"Our defense, it's one of the best games they have played," Francalangia said. "The defensive third, we were solid and we were able to get to more of the 50-50 balls in the second half and control the midfield. Without the wind, I think a couple of those runs result in another goal or two."
But on this night the Spartans needed just one and now they are once again in the Class M final four.
"We wanted it and I'm so proud of my team, how everyone fought," Sztyler-Magee said. "Everyone came together and now we are in the semifinals, it's a great feeling."