2022 CIAC girls soccer tournament semifinal previews, predictions

Cheshire defeated Mercy 2-1 at West Have High School on Nov. 3, 2022 to win its first SCC girls soccer championship since 2016.

Cheshire defeated Mercy 2-1 at West Have High School on Nov. 3, 2022 to win its first SCC girls soccer championship since 2016.

Joe Morelli / Hearst Connecticut Media

Three teams are still alive to have repeat state championships in the CIAC girls soccer tournaments.

Granted, two of them were co-champs in 2021: Staples in Class LL (with Wilton) and Mercy in Class M (with Sacred Heart Academy). But as we know, there will be no co-champions this year. Penalty kicks will decide it this weekend if necessary.

In the meantime, we have eight semifinals on Wednesday to decide who will be playing in the four state finals at Trinity Health Stadium in Hartford Saturday and Sunday. Regulation likely won’t decide them all.

CLASS LL

No. 1 Cheshire (20-0-1) vs. No. 4 Ridgefield (13-3-3)

WHERE: Pomperaug, Southbury, 7 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Cheshire: Def. No. 16 Darien 3-1; def. No. 9 Southington 0-0 (3-1 PKs)

Ridgefield: Def. No. 13 Simsbury 10-9 PKs; def. No. 28 E.O. Smith 4-0 

OUTLOOK

Cheshire won its first SCC championship since 2016. Now the Rams will be seeking their first trip to a state championship game since 2008. Goals are hard to come by in the postseason, as Cheshire found out against Southington. But Haley Shaw, Abby Sink and Ava Sink all made PKs for Cheshire to advance.

Gabby Tirado is the Rams' top scorer, so you can bet Ridgefield’s defense, which has allowed just four goals, will be marking her closely. The Tigers also won a game featuring PKs against Simsbury. Don't be surprised if this game also goes deep into the night.

MORELLI'S PICK: Ridgefield.

 

No. 2 Glastonbury (15-1-4) vs. No. 3 Staples (14-2-4)

WHERE: Naugatuck High, 7:30 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Glastonbury: Def. No. 15 Danbury 2-2 (4-3 PKs); def. No. 7 Fairfield Warde 1-0

Staples: Def. No. 14 Greenwich 5-0; def. No. 27 Wilton 3-0

OUTLOOK

A heavyweight battle that will be decided by one goal - maybe. Both teams have very good defenses and St. Joseph was the only team to score at least two goals on both the Guardians and the Wreckers. Gianna Angelillo leads a balanced offense for Glastonbury while the Chudowsky sisters, Evelyn and Natalie, do the same for Staples. Goals will be at a premium. Staples will be trying to reach its second straight Class LL final. One of these two teams has played in the LL final in nine of the last 10 seasons a state tournament was held.

MORELLI'S PICK: Staples.

 

CLASS L

No. 4 Notre Dame-Fairfield (18-1-2) vs. No. 16 Ellington (12-4-3)

WHERE: Falcon Field, Meriden, 7:30 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Notre Dame: Def. No. 13 Berlin 1-0; def. No. 5 Brookfield 2-1.

Ellington: Def. No. 17 East Lyme 3-0; def. No. 1 Nonnewaug 5-1; def. No. 9 Bethel 4-2.

OUTLOOK

Ellington dropped all four of its games in October, but has rebounded with some convincing postseason victories. The NCCC has prepared the team well.

Notre Dame will likely be the best team it has faced. The Lancers defeated Brookfield in the SWC tournament final in penalty kicks, then eliminated the Bobcats in the quarterfinals here. Goalkeeper Veronica Rrapi has posted 15 shutouts. The Lancers are seeking their first berth in the state finals.

Notre Dame’s lone loss came against Bethel, which fell to Ellington in the quarterfinals.

MORELLI'S PICK: Notre Dame

No. 2 St. Joseph (19-1-1) vs. No. 3 Wethersfield (16-1-3)

WHERE: Naugatuck High, 5 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

St. Joseph: Def. No. 15 Holy Cross 8-0; def. No. 23 Foran 7-0.

Wethersfield: Def. No. 19 Guilford 1-0; def. No. 11 Woodstock Academy 2-1.

OUTLOOK

Wethersfield flew under the radar for a lot of the season despite not having a regular-season loss. Its three ties were against three of the better teams in the CCC: Glastonbury (on a last-second PK), Northwest Catholic and Simsbury. Kathleen Brush leads the way with 22 goals and midfielder Allie Leahy had 23 assists. Its only loss came against Glastonbury in the inaugural CCC tournament championship game.

Wethersfield is going to need to get an early lead against St. Joseph. Alexa Pino and Sara Parker are lethal goal scorers and the Cadets’ defense is pretty good, too.

MORELLI'S PICK: St. Joseph

CLASS M

No. 8 Watertown (16-5-1) vs. No. 13 Northwest Catholic (12-5-2)

WHERE: Veteran’s Stadium, New Britain, 7:30 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Watertown: Def. No. 25 Valley Regional 1-0; def. No. 9 Sheehan 1-0; def. No. 1 Stonington 1-0.

Northwest Catholic: Def. No. 20 Wolcott 4-0; def. No. 4 Woodland 3-0; def. No. 12 Cromwell 6-0.

OUTLOOK

Watertown also has not allowed a goal in the tournament, beating all three of its opponents 1-0, including taking out the top seed Stonington in the quarterfinals. Goalkeeper Isabella Beauty had double-digit saves in each of the tournament wins for the Warriors.

Watertown lost to Woodland in the NVL tournament final.

Woodland lost to Northwest Catholic in the second round. Keeping with the shutout theme, the Lions, last year’s Class S state finalist, also shut out Wolcott and Cromwell en route to the semifinals. Playing the likes of Southington, Berlin and Simsbury during the regular season has helped the Lions make yet another tournament run.

MORELLI'S PICK: Northwest Catholic

No. 3 Mercy (18-3-1) vs. No. 10 Bacon Academy (13-4-3)

WHERE: Veteran’s Stadium, New Britain, 5 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Mercy: Def. No. 30 Griswold 7-0; def. No. 19 East Hampton 4-0; def. No. 22 Weston 2-1 (2 OT)

Bacon Academy: Def. No. 23 Seymour 4-0; def. No. 7 Plainfield 1-0; def. No. 31 Lewis Mills 1-0

OUTLOOK

Mercy was a co-champion in this division last year with Sacred Heart Academy. Now the Tigers are trying to win it outright.

Mercy edged Weston in the quarterfinals. The Tigers will be facing a team that has yet to allow a goal in the tournament. Bacon Academy, which will be making its first appearance in a state semifinal since 2007.

Audrey Palmer’s goal stood up for the Bobcats, who will have a tough time keeping Mercy off the scoreboard. But a pair of early goals could prove beneficial if the pressure on Mercy to answer begins to mount.

MORELLI'S PICK: Mercy

CLASS S

No. 1 Lyman Memorial (18-1-1) vs. No. 20 Portland (10-8-2)

WHERE: Municipal Stadium, Waterbury, 7 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Lyman Memorial: def. No. 17 Terryville 4-0; def. No. 9 Bolton, 3-1 (PKs)

Portland: Def. No. 13 Classical/University 7-1; def. No. 4 Windham Tech 2-0; def. No. 21 Tourtellotte 2-1.

OUTLOOK

This is the only division where right now, we know there will definitely be a new champion. Lyman Memorial goalkeeper Phoebe Carpenter only allowed one penalty kick and made one, too, while Leah Comeroski’s PK sent Lyman Memorial to the semifinals.

The Bulldogs, ECC Division II champions, have only lost to East Granby this season (2-0) and is now seeking their first state finals appearance this weekend.

The team Lyman Memorial is facing played in three consecutive Class S state finals from 2012-14. Portland was a Shoreline tournament semifinalist and has made a nice run here as the No. 20 seed. But this will be the Highlanders’ toughest test of the tournament by far.

MORELLI’S PICK: Lyman Memorial

No. 2 East Catholic (16-1-1) vs. No. 3 Thomaston (16-3-1)

WHERE: at Falcon Field, Meriden, 5 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

East Catholic: Def. No. 18 Old Lyme 10; def. 7 St. Bernard 2-1.

Thomaston: Def. No. 19 Canton 1-0; def. St. Paul 2-1 (2 OT).

OUTLOOK

Thomaston has reached its first state semifinal thanks to Sophia Coer’s goal with 21 seconds left in the second overtime period. The runner-up in the Berkshire League, Thomaston has to face East Catholic, which has benefited from playing in the CCC and is seeking its first state championship since winning Class M in 2014.

The Eagles were one of the surprise teams in our girls soccer midseason report. East Catholic went 4-10-2 in 2021 and didn’t qualify for postseason play. East Catholic has not lost since the season opener at Tolland. 

MORELLI'S PICK: East Catholic