THOMASTON – Frustrated and a touch aggravated. That was the Thomaston High girls soccer team at halftime of Wednesday afternoon’s Class S second round state tournament game against Old Say brook.
Smiling, much more at ease and victorious. That was the Golden Bears when it counted – at the end of the game. Sparked by a pair of second half of goals from Liv Blasko and Claire Saunders, the Bears overcame pesky No. 16 Old Saybrook for a 2-1 victory at a rather frosty Nystrom’s Park.
The victory sets up meeting No. 4 of the season against archrival Terryville Friday at 2 p.m. at Nystrom’s. Thomaston owns wins in the first three matchups, all of the games highly competitive battles.
Nothing comes easy at this time of the season nor should it. The top-seeded, undefeated Berkshire League champion Bears (17-0-2) know that and responded with the type of grit that is needed in the post-season.
Old Saybrook (7-6-5) came into the game with less than intimidating numbers or ranking. Forget all that. The Rams are Shoreline Conference tough and threw an irritating defense at the Bears for large portions of the game.
Despite spending large chunks of time on the Rams side of the field and applying consistent pressure, the Bears found shots in short supply and a seeming white-out in the middle of the field. All of which added up to a 0-0 halftime deadlock.
“We were aggravated (at the half),” Blasko said. “If we get in our heads and don’t play like we can, it’s frustrating. At half we cleared our minds and came out and played like we can.”
Saunders, one of the Bears top scoring threats was repeatedly hounded by the Old Saybrook defense. “The team was frustrated and I was frustrated,” Saunders said. “We just couldn’t make anything work and for me it was one of those days.”
But these Bears have a deep reservoir of tough to go with talent.
“All year we’ve had the ability to talk it out and make things happen, “assistant coach Ernie LeClair said. “Our chances were there we just had to take advantage of them.”
And so the Bears did. Blasko took some nervousness starting to descend on the pitch out of the air when she got ahead of the field by a step, took a pass from Saunders and rolled it past on-rushing Ram goalie Kylie Lake into the left corner of the net for a 1-0 lead with 26:35 remaining.
“I just went on a run, Claire sent a long ball and I cut in front of the girl and kicked it past the goalie,” Blasko said.
“I just touched the ball and played it straight ahead,” Saunders said. “I stood back with my hands on my hips and watched it.”
The Bears sealed the game with 4:59 and again Saunders was involved. She punched the ball over the goalie’s head from 10 yards out for the second goal.
Old Saybrook avoided the shutout with a goal with just under a minute remaining.
The Bears’ soccer train rolls on.