Oct. 16—WATERFORD — It was a 1-1 tie in double overtime, the first mark against the Waterford High School girls' soccer team's perfect record in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II standings, and yet Waterford coach Chris Ghiglia called it one of his favorite games of the season.
"The game was phenomenal," Ghiglia said of the deadlock with division rival Stonington. "It was 100 minutes of two teams getting on it."
Prior to the season, it's what you might have predicted between the teams, a tie. Stonington and Waterford were ECC tournament finalists a year ago, with Stonington taking the title by a razor-thin margin, 1-0.
But headed into Friday night's game, Waterford was the team to beat at 9-2 overall, 5-0 in Division II while Stonington, which suffered a couple of setbacks with injuries and with an inexperienced roster featuring eight freshmen, was 6-6 overall, 0-5 in the division. Stonington had lost three straight coming into the game, twice in overtime.
But that didn't stop a Stonington team which Ghiglia calls "super-talented," even though Waterford got on the board first with a goal from Nicole Li with 25 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the first half on a rebound off a shot by Amelia Allen.
Carleigh O'Keefe countered for Stonington less than a minute later and the remainder of the 100 minutes belonged to the teams' goalies, Waterford's McKenzie Gregory and Stonington's Kelsea Anderson, who has had her share of the Bears' injuries this season.
"For sure, every game we play is a new game. We come out to win every time," O'Keefe said of Stonington's mindet despite its now 0-5-1 record in the division. "We just look forward. ... Our younger players are stepping in great. It's just a matter of finishing our chances but we've played great every game."
"It was our third overtime game and the first two didn't go in our favor," Stonington coach Jen Solomon said. "Each game, we learned. We lost to Killingly in overtime (Tuesday). This was our second overtime match of the week. ... We hit a couple injuries but the girls have been playing fantastic soccer. We've been competing as a group."
Ghiglia said he felt Waterford dominated the second half and overtime, with the Lancers sending Anderson, the Stonington goalie, chasing a ball past the post as time expired in double overtime.
"They always say in soccer that right after you score, you're at risk to give up a goal," Ghiglia said of Stonington's game-tying strike by O'Keefe. "You've got to be extra focused."
Waterford will return to division play Tuesday at Plainfield, with a chance to win the Division II title with a victory, eliminating Plainfield (2-2-1 in league play) and Killingly (3-2). Stonington also has a pair of division games remaining against Plainfield and Bacon Academy.