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.