MIDDLETOWN – Strong starts to the soccer season continue to be a thing for coach Marcus Harley’s Mercy program.
Seniors Kaila Lujambio, Katie Menard and Grace Riegler scored in the first 10 minutes Tuesday to spark the host Tigers to a 3-0 victory over Daniel Hand, their fifth straight win to start the season.
Mercy opened the 2018 season with seven straight wins and last year’s team got out of the gate with a 6-0-1 record. The Tigers’ five wins are tied with Cheshire (5-2-0) in their SCC division.
Lujambio converted a penalty kick just 15 seconds in against Hand. Menard made it 2-0 only 55 seconds later, with the assist coming from freshman Kate Donlan.
Riegler scored in the 11th minute, more than enough offense for sophomore keeper Melina Ford to work with. Ford finished with five saves.
Lujambio, Menard and Riegler are the team’s only three seniors. Harley has melded a new defensive unit that has played well collectively. He also attributes the Tigers’ outstanding start to Ford’s overall play (one goal allowed this season).
“We have an excellent goalkeeper and the team have been working hard on limiting the opponents’ serious chances,” Harley said. “The few we give up per game, our goalkeeper has been there for us making saves.”
SCC DIVISION A STANDINGS
North Haven 1-5-0
Lyman Hall 0-6-0
The coach also credits his seniors for their leadership in bringing along so many of Mercy’s younger players, among them Donlan, a scorer, and freshman defensive midfielder Megan Menard.
“Kaila Lujambio is our offensive mid and has been working super hard to help us both offensively and defensively as we get that young defensive group some experience,” Harley said. “Katie Menard has been a very good vocal leader on the field and has contributed with a few nice assists. And Grace Riegler is currently averaging one goal per game and is one of our leading goal scorers.”
“We have been blessed to have had older players leading our defense the last few years, and losing four starting defensive players to graduation was my biggest concern coming into this season,” the coach added. “But give credit to this new defensive group of girls — they are playing hard while trying to play through their nervousness, (Ford) helping out whenever they let a shot through, and the offense giving us early goals so they can settle down and breathe a little. It has been a total team effort.”
The Tigers visit North Haven (1-5-0) on Friday for a 6 p.m. match.
Brooke Salutari had eight saves for Hand (2-2-1). Mercy had an 11-5 advantage in shots on goal.
Elsewhere around the county on Tuesday:
Portland 5, Westbrook 0
WESTBROOK – Kendall Prince and Lily Larson scored two goals each to power the Highlanders to a Shoreline Conference win.
Tatum Hair also scored for Portland (2-2-1), which is on a mini-run after an 0-2 start.
Kendra Schoeps also had an assist and Highlanders keeper Hannah Brunk finished with four saves.
Alexandra Zanzalari collected 23 saves for Westbrook (0-6).
Coginchaug 6, Hale-Ray 0
MOODUS – Katie Farr had a hat trick for the Blue Devils and Alyssa Woodward scored two goals and added an assist in their Shoreline victory.
Noelle Sorensen also scored for Coginchaug (2-1-3) and Ally Woodward and Samantha Paul had two assists apiece.
Claire DeFlora and Carly Benbow shared time in goal for the winners. Caroline Bonadies had seven saves for Hale-Ray (0-6).
Morgan 1, Old Saybrook 0
OLD SAYBROOK – Caeley Ayer was assisted by Julia Tanner in the 59th minute, and the goal stood as the winner for the Huskies in Shoreline play.
Morgan was playing on back-to-back nights. The Huskies (3-1-2) played Portland to a scoreless draw on Monday.
Huskies keeper Emma Lindsay had three saves. Abby Colella had six saves for the Rams (1-4).
Coginchaug 2, Hale-Ray 0
DURHAM – Junior Tyler Kobus and sophomore Ryan Newberry provided the goals on a day Coginchaug celebrated its senior class prior to the Shoreline match.
Shane Buckheit assisted Kobus’ goal, while Newberry scored unassisted. Both scores came in the second half.
Joel Kindel had four saves on 10 shots for Hale Ray (1-5-0). Dylan Zolnik had one save for the Blue Devils (2-3-1).
Daniel Hand 2, Xavier 1
MADISON – Aiden McKay scored the deciding goal with four minutes left in the match to lift Hand past Xavier at the Surf Club.
Ryan Gerry gave Xavier a 1-0 lead with 25:47 left in the second half. Jason Wallack scored the equalizer for Hand with 5:53 to go before McKay provided the winner 1:47 later.
Dillion Luke had seven saves for the Falcons (3-2). Timothy Perez finished with three saves for Hand (5-0).
Morgan 7, Haddam-Killingworth 0
CLINTON – Alex Wolf had four goals and one assist and Nori Lopez had a goal and two assists to lead the Huskies to their Shoreline win over the Cougars.
Maggie O’Donnell had a goal and assist and Sophia Vigorito also scored for Morgan (2-3). Goalie Abbie Gordon had one save.
Maddie Archer had 16 saves for H-K (0-5).
Middletown 3, Bulkeley 0
MIDDLETOWN – The Blue Dragons swept Bulkeley behind the play of Makayla Thompson (12 aces) and Azra Cecunjanin (5 aces, 5 kills). Middletown (2-5) hosts Platt on Thursday at 6 p.m.