Horse power -- Davis' two goals lift unbeaten Immaculate girls to win over Newtown
Updated 11:43 pm, Tuesday, October 15, 2013
NEWTOWN -- As far as regular-season high school soccer games go, they don't get much bigger than this: Two defending state champions battling under the lights in front of a spirited crowd of several hundred in a rematch of last year's conference championship game.
Immaculate's Paige Davis scored two goals in less than a minute, and for all 80 minutes, the Mustangs' defense was its usual, impenetrable self in a 2-0 triumph over Newtown amid a playoff-like atmosphere at Blue and Gold Stadium Tuesday night.
Coincidentally, when these two teams met in last year's South-West Conference title game, Davis set up both Immaculate goals with well-placed corner kicks four minutes apart as the Mustangs rallied for a 2-1 victory.
"We knew coming in they were going to want to get us, since we knocked them off last year," said Davis, who was named the MVP of last year's conference championship game. "It's always a tough game with them. We worked hard together, we did it for each other and we pulled out the win."
Immaculate is now unbeaten in an eye-popping 36 straight games, dating all the way back to a 1-0 loss at home against Weston in last year's season-opener. Their run includes a 5-0 rout of Portland in last year's Class S state title game, which earned the Mustangs their ninth state title in 10 years.
"We're not worried about that. We're just worried about one game at a time," Immaculate coach Nelson Mingachos said. "We'll enjoy this one and start preparing for our next game."
Equally as impressive as the Mustangs' unbeaten streak -- perhaps even more so -- is the fact that they've out-scored their opponents 46-1 in their 14 games this year, which includes 12 wins and two ties.
And on the odd chance an attacker happens to break through the Mustangs' back line, there's All-New England goalkeeper Ashley Houghton to contend with.
"Our defense is very solid," Mingachos said. "I'll say it to the end, I think our defense is one of the best in the league, if not the state. We have a good group back there."
Houghton made five saves to preserve the shutout on Tuesday. She made a sprawling save to thwart Newtown's Shelby Tolla from close range with less than five minutes remaining. In fact, Houghton -- "The Human Eraser," as Mingachos called her -- hasn't given up a goal all season, as she wasn't in goal when New Fairfield managed to punch one in during a 5-1 Mustangs win on Sept. 13.
At the other end on Tuesday night, Alyssa Ruefenacht made 10 saves for Newtown (8-3-3) on Senior Night.
"I certainly can't fault my team for their effort," said Newtown coach Marc Kenney, whose team last year bounced back from its defeat to Immaculate in the SWC title game to capture the Class LL state crown. "They worked hard from start to finish. In the second half, we started playing a little better tactically and we started playing better as a unit.
"Immaculate is an excellent team," Kenney continued. "I think both of us are in the same boat where we've both won a bunch of games in the last bunch of years, so this game is always a rivalry a little bit, but it's fun, too. It's obviously clean and we love playing against each other."
Davis' two goals in the blink of an eye proved to be enough for Immaculate. She left-footed home a blast from 31 yards out on a direct kick in the 17th minute to break the scoreless deadlock.
"I saw the wall and I saw the goal and I was just trying to get that finish in," Davis said. "We practice them in practice, and I knew what I needed to do."
She struck again only seconds later off an assist from Caitlyn Linden.
"I knew that was the goal we needed to get a good cushion, but I knew it was dangerous," Davis said. "A 2-0 lead is never safe in soccer, and I knew we needed to lock in on defense and keep it up on offense."
Both teams have just two games remaining in the regular season. Then, it's on to the SWC playoffs, where there's always a chance they could meet again.
In the meantime, be sure to check out a replay of Tuesday's game on CPTV on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Log onto CPTV.org for details.
IMMACULATE 2 0 -- 2
NEWTOWN 0 0 -- 0
Records: Immaculate 12-0-2; Newtown 8-3-3.
Goals: I--Paige Davis 2. Assists: I--Caitlyn Linden. Goalies: I--Ashley Houghton (5 saves); N--Alyssa Ruefenacht (10 saves).