Se­niors lead Tol­land girls to semi­fi­nals

Rig­gott,Papa key win over Wethers­field

Hartford Courant - - Ctvarsity - By Sean Be­gin sbe­

The se­niors on Tol­land’s girls soc­cer team have been a driv­ing force for the Ea­gles this sea­son. It was no dif­fer­ent in their Class L quar­ter­fi­nal game Fri­day af­ter­noon at Tol­land High.

Tol­land got a mea­sure of re­venge on CCCri­val Wethers­field in a1-0 win to earn a trip to next week’s semifin- als, be­hind the work up front of se­niors Eva Rig­gott and Lind­sey Papa.

“We’ve been work­ing and play­ing to­gether since third grade,” Papa said. “Ever since sopho­more year, th­ese 10 se­niors have been work­ing hard. This is our year to shine and it’s nice to get the op­por­tu­nity.”

With 4:17 left in the first half, Papa, work­ing to­ward the Wethers­field net, flicked the ball back to Rig­gott, who buried it from deep into the up­per right cor­ner. The lone goal proved to be enough for Tol­land.

“I just took a shot with left [foot] and went top right with it. I was just so happy,” Rig­gott said. “We’ve been work­ing so hard and it’s fi­nally pay­ing off. We were hun­gry [to get the win back] so we’re happy about it.”

Tol­land, the No. 2 seed in Class L, had lost just twice in the reg­u­lar sea­son. But one of those came at the hands of Wethers­field, 2-0, back on Oct. 9.

“We don’t go into any game ex­pect­ing to win, even one we had won pre­vi­ously,” Wethers­field coach Emily Fanelli said. “We knew they were a good team, so it was go­ing to be a fight no mat­ter what the score was the first time.”

Wethers­field, seeded sev­enth, had its chances in both halves of Fri­day’s game, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Tol­land kept the pressure on in the sec­ond half and didn’t give Wethers­field much op­por­tu­nity to gen­er­ate of­fense.

“There were a lot of things I gave them to work on specif­i­cally for this game and we just didn’t do ev­ery­thing,” Fanelli said. “We didn’t win many 50-50 balls and throw-ins. If we had hus­tled a bit more, it might have been a dif­fer­ent out­come.”

The best op­por­tu­nity for a Wethers­field goal came late in the sec­ond half on a break­away.

Tol­land keeper Kelsey Leach, an­other se­nior, came out deep and man­aged to get a hand on a po­ten­tial game-ty­ing shot, de­flect­ing it wide right.

“Any time a goalie is out that far, it makes a coach’s heart beat faster,” Tol­land coach Erin Reed said. “But she’s ex­pe­ri­enced and I trust her judge­ment as a rule. She’s got long arms and quick re­flexes, so that’s her game.”

Tol­land will now fo­cus on the semi­fi­nal game on Mon­day against No. 3 Water­town. The Ea­gles find them­selves back in the semi­fi­nals for the first time since 2016 when they reached the Class M semis in Reed’s first sea­son.

“[Go­ing into Mon­day] we’re go­ing to work on how to con­nect on the out­side to get up [the field],” Reed said.

“And I also want to teach them to play with a lead, es­pe­cially when the other team starts to coun­ter­at­tack. Dur­ing the tour­na­ment, you have to go for it.”

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