|Holy Cross girls soccer hopes that Saturday's Class S state final ends|
with them hoisting the trophy for the first time.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)
"They are intensely focused currently, but they are enjoying the moment as much as any team I've coached," Crusader head coach Phil Mongelluzzo said. "I've told them we are in the midst of something very special and to savor every minute of it."
This run is indeed special. It's the fourth time Holy Cross has appeared in a state final. The Crusaders (16-3-3) have never won the championship, and Saturday's 1 p.m. match against to-seeded Old Lyme at Middletown High School's Rosek-Skuble Stadium figures to be a major challenge.
"Old Lyme is immensely talented, but very disciplined and that is a what makes them so tough to beat," Mongelluzzo said. "They won't beat themselves and they always know exactly where they are in the game and what each situation calls for."
The Wildcats won the 2016 Class S title and shared the 2015 crown. Old Lyme is 20-1, with the only loss coming by a score of 2-1 to North Branford in the Shoreline Conference final. The Wildcats have allowed eight goals all season, but two of those were scored by fourth-seeded St. Paul in the Class S semifinal. Old Lyme can be scored upon.
When facing a dominant top seed, a certain "why not us" mentality is needed. That's exactly what Holy Cross has.
"And we are confident we can play with anybody because you don't get to the final without being committed to something bigger than the individual," Mongelluzzo said. "The girls have shown great resiliency all year long and I'm incredibly proud of how they have grown both as people and as players."
How will the Crusaders try to beat the Wildcats. Here's what Mongelluzzo had to say:
"This, as you know has been incredibly tough to do. It is going to come down to a simple blueprint for us. We need to outwork them in every phase of the game. If we work harder than they do, good things will happen. We need to keep our poise and composure and we need to win every free ball."
And what if Old Lyme gets the first goal?
"And most importantly, if they score 1st we need to breathe and remember what we've meditated to as a team: "In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you,"" Mongelluzzo said.
For seniors Erin Goggin, Madison Smith, Kiley Harnish and Nicole Rohlman, nothing would be better than leaving Holy Cross girls soccer with the program's first state championship. Old Lyme will be the biggest challenge the Crusaders have ever faced, and they'll need to work hard and continue to believe in themselves to claim the upset.