WOODBRIDGE — Simsbury senior Amy Feingold talked about how loose her team was prior to Friday’s quarterfinal match against Amity. With the school system getting a coach bus for the long trek to Woodbridge, Feingold and her teammates had time to relax and discuss what they needed to do to advance to the state semifinals.
Feingold led the way, scoring three times, as the sixth-seeded Trojans upset No. 3 Amity 9-5 in the Class L quarterfinals.
Looking to win the first state title in the program’s history, the Trojans advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals in Simsbury, where they will play No. 7 Fairfield Ludlowe, a 10-5 winner over Greenwich.
“We had a lot of time together on the bus,” Feingold said. “We were able to get in the zone. We all decided we had to score early and that’s what we did.”
The game plan on the bus ride down worked to perfection as the Trojans scored three times in the first 8 minutes, 22 seconds to take a 3-0 lead and never looked back.
Simsbury (14-3) was quicker and seemingly won every small battle early on. By the time the Spartans got on the scoreboard, Simsbury already led by five.
“We had a lot of turnovers,” Amity coach Jenna DeRosa said after her team finished the season 15-3. “When we got possession, we gave it back. It seemed like they had the ball more. We usually take good, quality shots, but Simsbury is such a great team. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
The Trojans set the tone early with a pair of goals in just over the first five minutes. Elena Bontatibus took a perfect pass from Taylor Truting and buried a shot 54 seconds in. Just over four minutes later, the Trojans took a 2-0 advantage when Nicole Loftus fed Maggie Brian for a quick shot and goal. Truting made it 3-0 off an assist from Brian, and Feingold scored off a penalty with 12:41 left in the opening half for a 4-0 lead.
“It was huge,” Simsbury coach Rick Bontatibus said of his team’s start. “We wanted to get off to a quick start. That was the plan. We wanted to get up early and get the momentum.”
Amity took a timeout and started to win more ground balls, but the Trojans added to their lead on a goal by McKena Pennington.
Trailing 5-0, the Spartans started to play like the team which advanced to the Southern Connecticut Conference finals and won 15 games. Bailey McDermott got Amity on the board when she ripped a low shot past Simsbury goalie Kaitlyn O’Brien with 7:49 left in the half.
Skylar Burzysnki then scored twice in 2:29 to get Amity within 5-3, but the Spartans never got closer. Behind the play of O’Brien in goal, Simsbury’s lead never shrunk as O’Brien made several key saves in the first half.
With the game still in striking distance, O’Brien denied Burzynski in front, and made a tough save on Meghan Smith in front with the Trojans up 4-0.
“My team made my job easier in front of me,” O’Brien said. “I could not have done it without them. I was able to see clear shots. They were awesome tonight.”
After Burzynski scored twice, Simsbury turned it up again, winning every loose ball, and using the team’s speed to its advantage. The Trojans seemed to tire out the Spartans and Simsbury scored twice in the final 2:58 of the opening half on goals by Feingold and Loftus for a 7-3 lead.
“I thought it was really important to get up early,” Feingold said. “Now we get a home game in the semifinals. We weren’t going to drive here to lose.”
Amity got as close as 7-4 on a goal by Dylan Lyons 1:55 into the second half, but any shot of a comeback was denied when O’Brien stopped Lauren Ronai in front with a stick save, and Burzynski rang a shot off the post 3:20 later.
“I am proud of the girls,” DeRosa said. “We fought to the end. We did not give up. Simsbury is a solid team all-around.”
Goals by Simsbury’s Elena Bontatibus and Amity’s Ronai closed the scoring as the Trojans advanced to the semifinals.
Amity goalie Payton Rahn finished with seven saves in the loss.
Player of the Game
Kaitlyn O’Brien: Simsbury goalie made 11 saves in the quarterfinal victory, including a pair of big saves early in the contest to keep Simsbury comfortably in front.
“It is this group of girls. There are no other girls I would want to go all the way with. The girls understand me. They let me play my game and give me the ability to do what I am capable of doing.”
— Simsbury goalie Kaitlyn O’Brien
Simsbury 9, Amity 5
7 2 — 9
3 2 — 5
Goals: S — Maggie Brian, Elena Bontatibus 2, Taylor Truting, Amy Feingold 3, Mckena Pennington 1, Nicole Loftus; A — Bailey McDermott, Skylar Burzynski 2, Dylan Lyons 1, Lauren Ronai; Assists: Taylor Truting 2, Nicole Loftus 1, Maggie Brian 1, Charlotte Iler 1; Saves: S: Kaitlyn O’Brien — 11; A: Payton Rahn – 7
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