MADISON — The more shutouts the Guilford girls soccer team puts up, the more confident the members of the defense become.
Monday was Guilford’s eighth shutout of the season, a 3-0 victory over rival Hand at the Surf Club. It was the second shutout of the Tigers this season, the other being a 5-0 result at home in the season opener.
“We take a lot of pride in the shutouts,” senior co-captain Madison Gambardella said. “I’m proud of our defense. Our midfielders keep winning balls. We let each other know that we are not going to let any goals in and we are going to keep that up.”
Mercy was the only team to score against Guilford (8-1) this season, and that resulted in a 1-0 victory last Tuesday.
“We haven’t forgotten what it’s like to lose or tie. Our captains are aware,” Guilford coach Scott McMahon said. Guilford didn’t win a game until October last year and finished 5-7-6.
Of course, possessing the ball the majority of the time also helps take pressure off the defense. And once the Indians break through with a goal, that takes even more pressure off the back line.
It was Gambardella who helped break the scoreless tie Monday. She served the ball into the box attempting to score. Hand goalkeeper Madison Thomas couldn’t control the shot and Moira Kellaher finished it off in the 55th minute.
“I tried to hit it hard enough where it would either go in or get a deflection and that’s what I did,” Gambardella said.
Said Hand coach Dave Dikranian: “Unfortunately, our goalkeeper bobbled it, didn’t win it cleanly.”
Hand has been alternating keepers in each half (Brooke Salutari is the other) since the opener. Guilford also used two keepers on Monday, Claire Mackenzie and Olivia St. Marie.
Kellaher’s goal opened things up for Guilford, which started to create more shot opportunities. Lily Riccio scored the second goal with 7:32 left off of Addie Kenney’s assist.
A little less than 4 minutes later, Audrey Kamen finished it off, one-touching a ball from Maria Jennings past Thomas.
“You make a couple of simple mistakes against a team like Guilford, you will be down,” Dikranian said. “We are asking young kids to fill some big shoes. We are asking a lot of a lot of young players.”
Dikranian said the Tigers (4-4-1) have “improved tremendously” since that opener against Guilford. That includes wins over Shelton and Amity.
As for Guilford, there are plenty of chances left to take even bigger strides.
“Our key contributors are seniors and juniors. We are even with (the other teams in the Southern Connecticut Conference). If we keep pushing and keep having good games against all of them, we can be contenders for the SCC (tournament) and for states,” Gambardella said.
Guilford is currently sitting atop the Class L state rankings.
Guilford defense: posted its eighth shutout of the season. Has allowed just one goal so far.
“Playing Shelton, Cheshire, Amity and Guilford in a row, there are no breaks in that schedule. We played Cheshire even, we just didn’t finish (a 2-1 loss) and we got a good result (1-0 win) against a tough Amity team.”
— Hand coach Dave Dikranian