Mills moves on to quar­ters

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS - By Peter Wal­lace

BURLING­TON — No. 1 seed Lewis Mills (17-0) showed its stuff Wed­nes­day night in a 6-0 sec­on­dround Class M soc­cer win over No. 16 North­west­ern Wed­nes­day night at Burling­ton’s Nas­sa­he­gan Field.

The High­landers (10-6-2) came up big in a 2-1 win over No. 17 Wood­land Mon­day af­ter­noon, but, in their third match with the fel­low-Berk­shire League Spar­tans, they knew what to ex­pect.

The Mills girls swept through the BL with 15 shutouts in 16 reg­u­larsea­son wins, with a 101-2goal good­bye tour be­fore mov­ing to the CCC next year..

Nev­er­the­less, North­west­ern earned the Spar­tans’ re­spect in their view of the High­landers game on Mon­day while sit­ting out a first-round bye, and in their first-half per­for­mance Wed­nes­day.

“We got to watch our fel­low-BL team bat­tle Wood­land and we weren’t tak­ing them for granted,” said Mills coach Jared Sheikh. “The first state tour­na­ment game is al­ways a chal­lenge. You saw that in the up-and-down play at the be­gin­ning of this game.”

De­spite North­west­ern’s stiff re­sis­tance, the High­landers faced a team skilled at ev­ery po­si­tion as they raced up and down the field.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” said cap­tain and cen­tral de­fender Han­nah An­der­son, one of just three se­nior starters along­side five sopho­mores

and two fresh­men.

Tal­ented un­der­class­men turn into a li­a­bil­ity for some teams, but not Mills, where ev­ery player has come through one of the best feeder pro­grams in the state as well as pre­miere teams.

“I felt re­ally com­fort­able com­ing in,” said fresh­man striker Madi­son Hal­let, af­ter scor­ing two goals Wed­nes­day along with goals by fresh­man Alexa Cal­abrese, sopho­mores Vic­to­ria Flem­ing and Grace Buchanan and se­nior Grace Kryzan­ski.

Still, the High­lander de­fense gave as good as they got for much of the first half. The first two Spar­tan goals came off cor­ner kicks in the eighth and 24th min­utes. Buchanan tapped the first one back to Cal­abrese in a scram­ble af­ter the kick by Abby Mills. Flem­ing popped the sec­ond one in off an­other Mills cor­ner.

The third came just a minute later on a pure shot off the 18 by Hal­let.

Down 3-0, the High­landers pen­e­trated with dan­ger­ous bounc­ers through the Mills box while North­west­ern keeper Jena So­lak lim­ited the dam­age with a div­ing save on a fourth would-be Spar­tan goal.

“It’s seems strange to say when we’re be­hind 3-0, but I think we played re­ally well,” said High­lander coach Jared Stotler at the half.

But Mills owned most of the sec­ond half.

“We got a lit­tle tired and ran out of gas,” Stotler said.

That left Buchanan open for a goal from the top of the penalty box in the sixth minute; Kryzan­ski from 20 yards in the 13th; and Hal­let, work­ing past a North­west­ern de­fender, for the fi­nal score in the 35th.

“We raised our level,” said Sheikh.

The Spar­tans host No. 9 Elling­ton in the quar­ter­fi­nals Fri­day night, 5 p.m., at Nas­sa­he­gan. Elling­ton fell to Mills in last year’s sec­ond round on the Spar­tans’ way to their sec­ond straight semi­fi­nal.

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