Pictured: Coginchaug goalie Claire DeFlora and teammate Izzy Milardo hug following the Blue Devils’ eliminated from the Class S tournament. From left are Marina Chanthinith (28) and Allyson Woodward (20).
By Paul Augeri
DURHAM – The finality of Coginchaug’s 2-0 loss to Northwest Catholic in the CIAC Class S quarterfinals hit the Blue Devils’ seniors the hardest.
“We gave everything we had. Obviously you’re going to be sad about losing, but the fact that the season is over and we’re not going to be playing together anymore … ,” said forward Ashley Woodward, her voice trailing off.
“Most of us have been playing with each other for a long time,” Izzy Milardo said. Maddie DeFlippo, like Milardo a team co-captain, and Sara DePonte agreed.
The Blue Devils, the No. 12 seed in Class S, fought off No. 13 seed Northwest (11-5-3) for as long as they could Saturday.
The teams played a scoreless first half despite the Indians totaling 10 corner kicks and pounding the net. Junior goalie Claire DeFlora kept Coginchaug in it with a bunch of deflections and diving stops.
“We came in with a game plan and they executed it as well as could have been expected,” Coginchaug coach Megan Kavanaugh said. “We asked people to have really big roles and I think everyone stepped up and did everything they could to put us in position to win.”
Northwest had three corner kicks in the first three minutes of the second and produced two shots, with DeFlora stopping both.
“Claire came off the line really well today,” Kavanaugh said. “She was aggressive and she played with confidence, and when your goalie plays with confidence it sets the tone for the whole team.”
The match turned in the Indians’ favor 11 minutes into the second half. Coginchaug’s Noelle Sorenson made contact with Julia Nicholas on the edge of the 8-yard box and was called for a penalty. Nicholas converted the PK inside the far post for a 1-0 lead that felt larger.
“From where I was it looked like every other 50-50 ball that had been played,” Kavanaugh said, adding that the official did not explain his reasoning for the call.
“Mentally it’s tough to come back when you know you’re playing a team that’s really good,” the coach said.
After getting ahead, Northwest went right back to pressuring Coginchaug in its end and scored again. With DeFlora playing away from the goal, Lily Borowiec got the ball in the air and past DeFlora. The shot trickled into an empty net.
“The opportunities were there, and I absolutely felt like if we were able to win the 50-50s that we did, take players on down the line and earn the corners we got, it kind of became apparent as the game went on that we were definitely controlling it,” first-year Indians coach Shelbie Carr said.
Northwest reached the quarterfinal round after scoring seven goals in its win over Portland. They will face the Housatonic-Old Lyme winner in the semifinals.
“Coming in for (her) first year I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Carr said. “It’s definitely been a long road. Nothing has come easy. As time has gone on, I think we’ve really grown as a team and I think now we’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Coginchaug finishes with an 11-7-1 record and the good feeling that the team’s core will return in 2020.
Even though we didn’t win we gave them a battle, and I don’t think they were expecting that,” Kavanaugh said. “If a couple of bounces go another way, we could have had a goal or two and it could have been a different story. These guys left everything they had on the field.”