Despite being the underdog, the Weston High girls varsity soccer team remained in the hunt from the beginning of the South-Weston Conference quarterfinals.
The sixth-seeded Trojans were down in the first half but battled back in the second to eventually force overtime. It was not until then that third-seeded Masuk broke the stalemate in the extra period to win 2-1 on its own field on Saturday, Oct. 27.
The game-winning goal, pounded into the net by senior Kasey Moraveck, propelled Masuk into the semifinals against Newtown, which defeated Pomperaug 1-0 in the other quarterfinal game.
“We had beaten Weston earlier in the season, so we knew we could win,” Moraveck said after Masuk advanced to the semifinals. “We just kept pushing and didn’t let up, and it’s great momentum for the next round.”
The game got off to a fast start, with both defenses showcasing its skills.
An early shot by Masuk off a corner kick was blocked by Weston goalkeeper Ursula Alwang, the first of 11 saves by the freshman.
The ball was kept mostly in Weston territory through the first ten or so minutes of the game, although the Trojans made a few isolated drives into Panther territory. Each time, however, they were met and stopped by the Panther defense.
During one of these push forwards, the Panthers took possession and countered quickly past the initial line of Weston defense.
Senior Emily Montgomery sent a pass to classmate Michelle Andrzejewski deep in Trojan territory, and Alwang, playing aggressively, came off her line to try to stop the ball.
Andrzejewski sidestepped Alwang, and, with a defender at her back, smashed the ball into the wide-open net for a 1-0 Masuk lead 13 minutes into the first half.
The field opened up following Andrzejewski’s goal, with Weston playing more aggressively and taking more drives into Masuk territory.
The Trojans took three shots on goal in quick succession, but Fitzgerald came up with the save each time.
Weston continued to bring it throughout the rest of the half, but the Panther defense, headed up by Fitzgerald at the net, kept the Trojans off the board in the first 40 minutes of play.
The second half opened up with a Panther drive that was taken into Trojan territory, but ultimately stopped on a save by Alwang.
Weston continued to pressure back, and eight minutes into the second half, senior captain Grace Mattison penetrated the Panther defense and maneuvered the ball into the box.
Fitzgerald (nine saves) came out of the goal to try to steal it away, but Mattison tore to her left and knocked in a shot to tie the score at one.
Weston missed a free kick later in the half, and with it an opportunity to take its first lead of the game.
Masuk kept the ball mostly in Weston territory during the final ten minutes, but the Trojans’ defense, led by Alwang and defenders Emma Halper, Sidney Allon and Jourdan Ferguson, stopped the Panthers from earning the victory during regulation time.
The back-and-forth battle continued into overtime, but the sudden-death format allowed for not a single mistake.
Masuk sophomore Mo Murphy stole the ball on an early Weston drive, then shot a pass to Moraveck once in Trojan territory.
From the right side of the frame, Moraveck drilled a goal past Alwang and into the net, earning Masuk the 2-1 victory.
“They put forth a lot of effort, and they played hard,” said Weston head coach Gustavo Reaes. “Masuk is a good team, so we knew it was going to be a very tough game. Someone had to win, and today it wasn’t us.”
Weston, now 9-5-3 overall, now takes part in the state Class M tournament.