BRISTOL - After starting its season with two ties and a loss, the Bristol Central girls soccer team started its match against Plainville on Thursday afternoon playing flat.
The Rams controlled the ball early, but failed to create offensive opportunities because they were rushing their passes and not communicating well.
That all changed after around 15 minutes into the contest when the Central coaches calmed the team down and emphasized slowing down, making smarter decisions and focusing on “small ball,” not always trying to stretch the defense with long passes, but instead moving the ball more methodically up the field and maintaining possession. The success this strategic adjustment brought may become the foundation of the Rams’ offensive attack for the remainder of the season.
“[I want the players] looking for the pass on the ground instead of teams always trying to send the ball over the top of the defense,” Central head coach Ginny Godbout said. “Being able to just look for our feet and play it on the ground instead of being out of control.”
This reminder was the boost Central needed in a match where it was already the more talented team. Shortly after, Christina Browne scored the first of two Central goals in the first half as the Rams pummeled the Blue Devils 6-1 for their first win of the season.
“I’m just really happy for the girls to get over that,” Godbout said. “Our first two games, tying like that, especially because we were up in both games. So it’s tough when you end up tying like that and you don’t get that chance to win. I thought we played a really tough game against Southington the other day, so it’s just nice to have that breath of fresh air.”
Following its season opening tie against Avon, the Rams faced Bristol Eastern, which is always a challenging matchup from start to finish because of the rivalry, and then traveled to reigning Class LL runner-up Southington in a match they lost 2-0. If Central is able to hone its small-ball strategy through the rest of its regionalized schedule, it could create more success and different outcomes when it plays those teams for a second time.
“That game against Southington, they are a massive team and just very, very strong,” Godbout said. “I thought we played some of the best soccer I’ve seen in a long time. Sometimes there can be a letdown after an Eastern game because there is so much pressure and so much anxiety and everyone is just all about the game. And I thought we’ve practiced well, we’ve just been playing a lot better. That’s why it was a little disheartening when we came in flat [Thursday] because they played so well the other day, but I’m glad that we were able to pick it up in the second half.”
Riding the momentum of its first win, the Rams’ next matchup is against an 0-4 New Britain team that will present many opportunities for Central to work on its offense. The first real test of small ball will come in the match after when they take on Lewis Mills, which is yet to lose a match (3-0-1) and is led by returning All-State selection Abby Mills.
“I really hope everybody can just build off of this and keep on being as aggressive and being as dominant as we were today for the rest of the season,” senior Rachel Wygant said. “Our passing, all of us connecting together and all of us being able to find each other on the field and be able to connect.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com