Girls’ Soccer Wins Second Straight Class S State Championship

from The Zone, Waterbury Republican

The Holy Cross High girls soccer team remembered to say their prayers Sunday morning. Some of those probably came in the afternoon during the final 12 minutes of the Class S championship game at Dillon Stadium.

The No. 2 Crusaders saw their three-goal lead against No. 24 Northwest Catholic cut to one over a five-minute span. The game was getting chippy as the Lions amped up the pressure and the Crusaders tried to hold on.

“I prayed so much,” sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Healey said. “I was so freaked out because I thought they were going to tie (the game). We just held them.”

Holy Cross successfully held on over the final 12:21 to win, 3-2, and secure its second straight Class S state championship.

“It feels awesome,” sophomore Kaitlyn Alagno said. “I never felt this before. It is amazing.”

There may have been some divine intervention when Alagno scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with 22:50 left in the game.

Just two minutes after Jenna Tracey headed in a rebound off a Devon Bushka blast off the crossbar, Alagno lined up for a corner kick.

The kick landed in front of the net, hit off a Northwest Catholic player and found the back of the net to give Holy Cross (19-3-1) a 3-0 lead they ended up sorely needing.

“I was just planning on crossing it in,” Alagno said. “I didn’t think I was going to score it. But I ended up scoring it and it was an awesome feeling.”

Freshman Isabella Lombardo, the daughter of Holy Cross basketball coach Frank Lombardo, scored in the first half, breaking a girls championship game scoreless drought of 235 minutes from Saturday. Holy Cross coach Phil Mongelluzzo said Lombardo has come up big all year long.

“She knows what her role is. She was not much of a scorer this year, that will be for future years,” he said. “For her to put that ball, perfectly placed off her left foot, it was awesome. It gave us a little bit of breathing room and allowed us to play a little more loosely in the first half.”

Bushka had two assists and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Healey finished with nine saves.
“I thought so many girls had the opportunity to (win MVP),” Bushka said. “We all played one of our best games of the season so I think anyone could have really done it.”

Holy Cross Girls Soccer

Emily Nicholas put Northwest Catholic (10-9-2) on the board with 17:38 remaining and Alexia Lilly scored five minutes later to get it back to a one-score game.

“I was freaking out, if I am being completely honest,” Alagno said. “I knew we had to stay calm and play our game, which we ended up doing in the end.”

Mongelluzzo was looking for any way to flip the momentum back in his team’s favor.

“With three minutes left to go and Bella (Marzano) got knocked down, I was screaming for a PK, not because I think it’s the right call, but because I am trying to get my team any advantage,” Mongelluzzo said. “We were trying to stop the hemorrhaging. They kept coming at us. We outplayed them just enough to win the game. That is all it takes to win a game like this.”

With Holy Cross appearing headed to Class M next year, the program enters the next phase with two state championships in three seasons (there was no state tournament in 2020). For Mongeluzzo and the players, the season had the perfect ending.

“The girls played their hearts out,” Mongelluzzo said. “I thought this would feel good. It feels so much better than the first one. The first time was a magical ride. The second one was all about redemption and getting it done in a big game. Today was about perseverance. It shows the young ladies if they persevere they can overcome a lot of issues on the pitch.”

 

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