Pomperaug Girls' Soccer Team's Run Ends In State Quarters

After a tough finish in the SWC tourney in which top seed Pomperaug was eliminated by No. 5 and eventual champ Newtown in the semis, the Panthers took some time off.

Coach Jillian Cipriano gave her Panthers, No. 3 in the Class L state bracket, a week away to recharge and heal bumps and bruises. That time seemed to pay off as the Panthers, following a first-round bye, came out flying in their second round game with No. 14 Naugatuck on November 14.

"I think it really was good for them. They needed a week to get their bodies right," Cipriano said.

The Panthers applied heavy pressure early and often, setting the tone for the night en route to a 2-0 triumph — an outcome that did not fully tell the story as Pomperaug tapped its speed and dominated in possession and chances from start to finish.

"We won most of the 50-50 balls which is what the game plan was," Cipriano said.

It didn't take long for them to strike. Kate Johnson finished a breakaway opportunity, assisted by Holly McFarland, less than 10 minutes in.

Pomperaug's coach made a timely substitution that paid dividends for the second goal, late in the opening half. Erina Ismaili checked in late in the first half to give Johnson a breather and promptly dribbled across midfield and blasted a shot on goal. Jessica Rodriguez was in perfect position to deposit the rebound.

Panther goalkeepers Samantha Grayson and Sydney Weiss made five and three saves, respectively.

Pomperaug and No. 6 Guilford went to double overtime in the quarterfinals on November 16. Guilford prevailed 1-0, ending a solid campaign for the Panthers.

The Panthers doubled up Guilford in corner kicks 6-3 but couldn't capitalize. Grayson kept her team even with strong goalkeeping. Starting outside back Bethany Karp, one of Pomperaug's leaders who brings intensity to the field, was injured.

Kate Johnson, right, control the ball for the Panthers. Johnson scored in the win over Naugatuck.

Jessica Rodriguez scored in the Panther victory.

Bethany Karp goes up for a header.

Visit The SWC Website For Standings And Schedules

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