NORWALK, Conn. The Brien McMahon High School girls soccer team might have put the conference on notice on Thursday night. The Senators are not to be taken lightly in 2011.
McMahon took defending conference champion Greenwich to the wire in their season opener, surprising the Cardinals and just about everyone in the stands at Jack Casagrande Field. A year after getting thumped 5-0 by the Cardinals, a disallowed goal and a thrilling last-second shot were all that denied McMahon in a 1-0 loss.
"They played hard until the last play of the game," McMahon head coach Nicole Stockfish said. "After [Greenwich's] goal they hung their heads for about three seconds, got back into it and played the rest of the game."
McMahon was fired up at halftime, keeping Greenwich off the board for the first 40 minutes. The Senators penetrated the Cardinals' zone almost at will in the second half. Greenwich's Danny Simpson said the Senators were "the best McMahon squad I've seen" in his seven years as Cardinals head coach.
A free kick awarded to Greenwich early in the second half proved to be the difference in the game. Cardinals tri-captain Shannon Colligan bent a perfect shot over the McMahon defensive wall and into the low left corner of the net for the game's only score.
McMahon thought they had tied the game up a few minutes later when Jazmin Hernandez bounced a ball just over the head of Greenwich's goalie Maddie Graham. As Shawnique Samuels followed up the shot, she collided with Graham as the ball trickled into the net. The goal was disallowed but likely would have gone in if Samuels had not interfered.
McMahon had one last shot when awarded a free kick with 10 seconds left in the game. Hernandez's desperation shot from 40-yards out briefly slipped through the Graham's fingers. That elicited some gasps from the fans, but Graham recovered and sealed the win for Greenwich.
"The girls played outstanding. To lose off a free kick is unfortunate because I can't say enough about the way they played," Stockfish said. "If we just followed up our second chance balls we probably would have had three goals. Hopefully we continue to improve from here."
McMahon will try to get its first win of the young season when Fairfield Warde comes to town on Saturday for a game at noon.
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