Newtown, Immaculate aim for state titles


For years, the status quo has been the same when it comes to girls soccer in Fairfield County.

The FCIAC is the power conference, the one that is deeper with good teams.

Meanwhile, the South-West Conference has long been looked upon as the FCIAC's weak sister, the league with the inferior talent.

Today, Newtown and Immaculate can do a lot to change that perception. Both teams will vie for a state championship in their respective classes.

The Mustang's, who two weeks ago became co-champions of the SWC when they played Masuk to a 2-2 deadlock, will be playing for a second consecutive Class S title against No. 2 Old Lyme. The match will be held at Willowbrook Park in New Britain at 10 a.m.

The Nighthawks will be attempting to win their first ever Class LL championship. They will be facing FCIAC foe Trumbull at Norwalk High. Gametime is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Both teams, however, will be carrying the weight of the conference on their shoulders. True to form, the two conferences have combined to comprise five of the eight finalists in the four classes. So Newtown and Immaculate will be angling for respect.

"I feel that the SWC has really closed the gap on the FCIAC in the past four years," Nighthawks coach Rupert de los Reyes said. "I feel that our conference is really deep. We have a lot of good teams. Look at Lauralton Hall. That's a team that finished ninth in our league this season. They didn't make the playoffs, but they went to the Class L semifinals. That says a lot about the depth of our league. I think that the SWC and the FCIAC are the two best conferences in the state."

Immaculate has been dominant in the state playoffs. They advanced to today's final by defeating top seeded Stafford 5-1. Stafford was widely thought of as the team with the best chance of defeating the Mustangs, but Thursday's semifinal was never close.

Immaculate's best player in the postseason has been junior forward Lindsay Brown . She's scored eight goals in the three preceding games, including a five-goal outburst in a 7-0 second-round win over St. Bernard's.

There have been plenty of other contributors. Nicki Baker , Courtney McMahon , Kristina Haliskoe, and Amanda Genova have also been effective.

"We know that we just have to go out and play our game against Old Lyme," Immaculate coach Nelson Mingachos said. "We haven't changed anything from the regular season. Old Lyme is a very good team. They have good forwards. They're the best team in their league."

The two teams have history. Last season, the Mustangs needed a goal from Nicole Sieber to defeat Old Lyme 2-1 in double overtime. That was the only competitive match Immaculate received last year, so they know that they can be upset if they don't play well.

"We know what's at stake," Mingachos said. "Old Lyme will be looking for revenge and the girls know that very well. This is the state championship. We just have to be calm and do the things that got us here."

Newtown's road to the championship game was a lot more difficult. Casey Frobey's goal with 10 minutes remaining lifted them to a 2-1 win over Mercy in the semifinals. Before that, they barely eked out a 1-0 double overtime win over Amity in Monday's quarterfinal. The game was just a minute from going to penalty kicks before Frobey scored the game-winner.

The junior forward has been one of the best players in the state this season. Her postseason performance has validated her selection to the all-conference team.

"I've said it before, Casey Frobey is a big time player," de los Reyes said. "She has a chance to be an All-American before she's done."

The Nighthawks calling card has been great defense by a young defensive backfield. The best of the bunch have been sophomore Kyla Myles and freshman Gabbi Nastri . Their emergence has enabled de los Reyes to move Mary Anders from sweeper to the midfield where she can do more damage offensively.

"We've just been playing lights out defensively," de los Reyes said. "The sweepers have been playing great, and Ashley Larocque has been great in the goal."