WALLINGFORD — The Wallingford Strikers U12 girls soccer team had everyone seeing double in a 1-0 win over Brazil CT Yellow in a 35th annual TWIST tournament championship game on Monday at Choate Rosemary Hall.
The Wresien twins bookended the game-deciding sequence in the 40th minute of the Strikers’ championship.
Megan Wresien made a leaping save on a golden opportunity for Brazil CT Yellow. She went into a full extension, tapped the ball up with her fingertips and caught it on the way down to keep it out of the net.
Wresien then punted the ball to midfield, where it was collected by teammate Jessica Rinaldi, who charged with down field on the counter. After a few dribbles, Rinaldi crossed to a waiting Jenna Wresien, who punched in the game’s lone goal.
The score proved to be just enough for the Strikers. Brazil CT Yellow had the better opportunities in the opening half, forcing Megan Wresien (8 saves) to make a diving save just two minutes before the halftime whistle. Wallingford had trouble generating anything in the first 30 minutes.
Brazil CT Yellow had a golden opportunity in the 50th minute when a shot at an open net went just left of the cage.
Both Wallingford and Brazil CT Yellow finished the tournament 4-1. Brazil defeated the Strikers, 2-0, in the first game of the tournament for both teams on Saturday morning.
“We switched up a few positions and got our outside fullbacks up and, other than that, it was just a lot of hard work,” Strikers’ head coach Judi Corso-Greene said. “The girls had the fire in their belly and winning this tournament that’s held in our hometown, it means everything. These girls can be proud of what they’ve done and, hopefully, they are proud of it for the rest of their lives. Hopefully, we will accomplish it again next year.”
The Strikers may see Brazil CT Yellow again in 2020. Monday’s clash was a rematch of last year’s 11U TWIST final, a game won by Brazil CT Yellow.
“Many of us have been together for many years and this win is a culmination of a lot of hard work,” Corso-Greene said.
Members of the Strikers are Rylee Brunelle, Madeline Childs, Leah Corso-Greene, Ava Cote, Kate Frazier, Marielle Madancy, Grace Moriarty, Gabriella Reddy, Gabriella Rinaldi, Jessica Rinaldi, Jenna Wresien and Megan Wresien.
Coaching along with Judi Corso-Greene are Ray Johnson and Brian Moriarty.
There was another Wallingford finalist on Monday, a boys squad: the U12 Divison 2 WYSL Tigers. Trumbull United knocked off the Tigers 5-3 in the title game behind a remarkable effort from star Josai Vereen, who scored all five goals.
Wallingford led 2-1 at the half, but Vereen reeled off four second-half goals to finish the tournament with 19 goals in five games. Trumbull went a spotless 5-0 in its title run.
But Monday games started out well for the hosts. The Tigers (3-2) jumped out to an instant 1-0 lead in the second minute. Carter Lagase went up the left side of the field with a defender on his hip and knocked the ball into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, Vereen scored his first goal. He was able to break away and get the Wallingford keeper out of the net. He made a quick touch and tapped it into the vacant net..
In the ninth minute, Walllingford’s Arnold Dominguez drew a foul a couple of yards outside the top of the box. He took the free kick and converted with a shot to the upper left corner to give the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.
Vereen went to the bench with a yellow card in the final 10 minutes of the first half. But he came out fresh in the second half, converting two goals in the first four minutes to put Trumbull up 3-2.
Lagase came through with the equalizer in the 43rd minute. His second goal of the game came from close range, a tap-in assisted by Dominguez.
Vereen struck for his fourth goal in the 50th minute, putting Trumbull up for good, 4-3.
He created the go-ahead goal on his own. He tapped the ball through the midfield about 20 yards and out-ran three Wallingford defenders before slamming it into the back of the net.
Appropriately, Vereen capped the scoring by netting his fifth goal in the 53rd minute to put Trumbull up 5-3. This one was off of a corner kick.
Evan Ambrosia earned the win in the net for Trumbull with seven saves.
“It was a good experience for the boys,” Tigers coach Arnie Dominguez said. “You saw today that this team works hard. I’m happy because last year we didn’t make the final. This is a good day for the boys. We are going to keep working and try our best next year. We’ve coached this team since they were 7- and 8-years old. They’ve made big improvements since then.”
The members of the Tigers are Angel Aguilar, Lincoln Busa, Arnold Dominguez, Ethan Haynes, David Hernandez, Carter Lagasse, Daniel Laskowski, Lucas Pires, Nathan Rininger, Joseph Rodriguez, Ethan Tuxbury, Michael Upchurch and Ryan Vincelette.
This was the swan song for Championship Monday. TWIST will become a two-day event starting next year with all championships being held on Sunday.
“Our goal is to put out the best quality product and we’ve already gotten positive feedback from the coaches and the parents,” TWIST co-director Dave Rodriguez said. “I couldn’t be happier with the tournament this year.”