Greenwich girls soccer falls to Newtown in CIAC class LL second round

Although the Greenwich High and Newtown girls soccer teams will locked in a hard-fought battle earlier today at Newtown High School, it was two free kicks off the foot of Amy Martin that did in the Cardinals during the second round of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL tournament.

Martin, a senior for the Nighthawks, converted with 32:35 to play in the first half and again with 32:15 to play in the second to give Newtown the 2-0 victory and stopped Greenwich’s march towards the class LL finals.

“Credit to Amy on the Newtown team because she hit two very good free kicks and that’s a game changer,” Greenwich High School head coach Danny Simpson said. “We worked hard and there were two good teams going at it. The difference in the game was the two free kicks.”

With the victory, Newtown advanced to the class LL quarters, where they will battle No. 3 seed South Windsor Wednesday at 2.

“We did a good job today fighting,” Newtown head coach Marc Kenney said. “That’s a really good Greenwich soccer team. I feel fortunate that we had the opportunity to play them and for the game to be as good as it was for both sides. Short of two great free kicks, it could have gone either way.”

It was the Nighthawks that started the contest applying pressure to Greenwich. With 35:40 to play, Newtown had a corner kick, but the GHS trio of Emily Johnson, Caroline Markowitz and Jaime Kockenmeister were there to clear the ball out of harm’s way.

Two minutes later, Martin had her first of two goals. With 32:35 to play in the half, Martin took a free kick from 27 yards and arched the ball over the GHS defense and just over the head of GHS goalie Kylie Ginsburg for the 1-0 advantage.

Greenwich came back less than a minute later, as Molli Haimerl got the ball to the Newtown net and unloaded on a shot that hit the crossbar and bounced out of harm’s way. Haimerl had another chance at lighting the scoreboard, but she was unable to get a foot on the ball off an Emma Christie corner kick.

Christie’s solid work at starting corner kicks almost produced a GHS goal, as she booted the arching ball that got to the foot of Emma Haslun with 9:38 to play in the first half, however her shot from 15 yards went just over the crossbar.

“We knew they were going to be a good side,” Simpson said. “You don’t get 13 wins without being a good side. We knew it was going to be a midfield battle, but we didn’t do anything different. We came out here and played our game, but I thought the two teams matched up really well. I think we could have played for another 40 minutes and it still would have been a tie.”

Newtown also had several chances at adding to the lead, as Lydia Beiter, Melissa Buccino, Teresa Scott and Martin each had looks at the net.

Due to Greenwich’s hard-nosed style of soccer and their ability to control the ball, Kenney changed up his game plan a day earlier than his team’s battle with the Lady Cardinals.

“I was afraid they were going to dispossess us in the middle of the field, spot and kick the ball down our throats,” Kenney said. “I decided that we needed to counter that, so we did the same thing. Obviously it went well. We got the ball forward and had a couple of chances.”

In the second half, Greenwich fell behind 2-0 when Martin took a free kick from 30 yards out and launched a high arching kick that hit the top corner of the net with 32:15 to play.

“Amy is awesome,” Kenney said. “She’s been a starter here for four years and thrives in moments like this. The thing that I think was most special was that we did a lot of things to get to those free kicks.”

Greenwich had several chances at cutting into the lead. The team’s best chance happened with 15:27 to play in the game, as Naomi Leeds got past the Newtown defense and drilled a shot at point-blank range. However, the Nighthawk goalie made the diving save.

Christie also had a couple of looks at the net, as she took a corner that she curved to the net, but the goalie made the save. With 3:25 to play in the game, Christie had a free kick form 25 yards, but her shot missed the net by mere inches.

“We didn’t crumble when they let a goal up and didn’t crumble when they let up the second goal,” Simpson said. “They played all the way to the end, but today they met a stronger front. This is only our second loss of the season, so it’s been a hell of a season. These girls gave a lot of effort.”

To read more on the game, including more stats, quotes and a season wrap-up, check out Thursday’s Greenwich Post.

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