GIRLS SOCCER: Sheehan can’t quite jump the Sharks

WALLINGFORD — Sheehan had revenge on its mind.

Coach Rob Huelsman and his Lady Titans welcomed Sacred Heart Academy to Riccitelli Field for a rematch of Sept. 17 soccer game in which the Titans lost 2-1.

They haven’t lost since. Wednesday night continued that trend — except the Titans also didn’t win.

Sheehan tied Sacred Heart Academy 2-2 behind goals from sophomore Talia Crispino and junior Katelyn Casorla.

“They play hard and so do we,” Huelsman said. “That’s why when we came in tonight I said, ‘This is not going to be a walk in the park.’”

Players on both teams attacked the ball, producing physical plays between one other from the opening kickoff. For each 50-50 ball, Huelsman knew the players wouldn’t go in “soft.”

Despite the first 20 minutes yielding no goals, neither side wavered their intensity, and the intense play finally resulted in a goal for Sacred Heart Academy 23 minutes in.

Junior Juliana Garcia stood roughly 30 yards out from the net and fired a shot. The ball bounced at waist level up to and right past sophomore goalkeeper Trinity LaValley.

It seemed to light a fire under the Titans. In an already intense game, the tension rose. Sheehan increased the on-ball pressure, forcing numerous turnovers in the midfield.

“We’ve always been pretty resilient,” Huelsman said. “They’re not going to let down. They continually keep playing until they get success.”

Sheehan created opportunities from the pressure. Casorla fired a missile from a few yards outside the box to the top right corner of the goal. While it was on target, Ava King, Sacred Heart’s senior goalkeeper, made a leaping save.

But the ball found its way into that top right slot seven minutes later. Sheehan freshman Kate Frioni crossed the ball into the center of the box, right onto Crispino’s foot for the equalizer.

The 1-1 tie lasted fewer than six minutes.

The Sharks took back the lead with another Garcia goal. As with the first goal, it came on a long drive. This time, however, Garcia placed it out of LaValley’s reach, curving it into the right side of the net to send the Sharks up 2-1.

Still, there was essentially an entire half to play, giving the Titans an opportunity to tie it again.

And they did. Casorla, who nearly netted a goal in the first half, scored one from just outside the box with 15:02 left.

While the scoring concluded at this point, Sacred Heart Academy created multiple chances from free kicks in the final 15 minutes. 

It began as the Sharks kicked the ball slightly too high, grazing the net just minutes before nailing the crossbar with four minutes left.

They earned another free kick at the two-minute mark, as well, shooting beneath the bar and in LaValley’s reach this time.

But the ball slipped through her hands, landing just a few feet away from the goal line. Fortunately for the Titans, they cleared it over the crossbar to hold the tie.

Without the win, Sheehan (7-2-2, 2-1-2) did not catch Sacred Heart Academy (8-0-3, 3-0-2) in the SCC Housatonic standings. The Sharks also hold the season tiebreaker between the clubs.

“Obviously, we’re playing for the division,” Huelsman said. “We could have beat them tonight and then they could’ve lost (to) somebody else. Then maybe we had a chance (to win) the division.”

Up next for Sheehan will be a crossover match at East Haven on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

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