LaValle scores 5 to lift ND-Fairfield
BRIDGEPORT - There is something about the postseason that brings out the monster in Samantha LaValle.
LaValle, a senior forward for the Notre Dame-Fairfield girls soccer team, had posted 21 postseason goals in her first two seasons with the Lancers and significantly added to that total against Bethel in the opening round of the Class M tournament Monday as she netted all five ND goals in a 5-1 win at Veterans Park.
LaValle scored in the 12th minute, the 35th minute, the 52nd minute, the 60th minute and the 64th minute as the Lancers — the defending Class S champions, who have moved up a notch into Class M this season — advanced into the second round against either Branford or East Catholic on Wednesday at Veterans Park.
“I think we’re ready. Absolutely,” LaValle said about the Lancers chances at a second straight CIAC title. “I think we’re a lot more organized now. I think we really got our momentum going today and have our eyes on the prize.”
LaValle certainly had her eyes on the goal and that was far too dangerous for the Wildcats, who came into the game with a 5-6-5 record, but hadn’t won since Sept. 29.
“My first season, we grew,” Bethel coach Ben Weiss said. “It’s definitely a change in the style of play and formation and that’s not easy to adapt to, but I’m so proud of their work ethic and I’m already looking forward to next year.”
It took ND just 11 minutes to take the lead as LaValle took a pass from Brianna Kydes and buried a shot past Wildcats keeper Natalia Redmond to make it 1-0. Bethel rebounded to tie the game at 1-1 in the 34th minute as Annie Bedore finished a chance created by Stephanie Bierce. But just over a minute later, LaValle scored on a semi-breakaway to put the Lancers back in front 2-1.
Bethel could have actually taken the lead before the Bedore goal, but Bierce’s shot from in close deflected off the cross bar.
“I think in the first half we were all over them, I mean, a millimeter difference and we’re leading 2-1 and it changes the whole scope,” Weiss said. “Still, I’m proud of the girls, they fought to the end. It’s tough. Notre Dame played well, they weathered the storm and came back and responded.”
Notre Dame coach Wayne Mones agreed that the Wildcats were the aggressors in the first half.
“In the first half, I thought that Bethel dominated, but Sam was incredible with her two goals, so it makes me look like a good coach when we’re playing terrible and we’re still up 2-1 because of what Sam did,” Mones said. “That first game against them (a 1-1 tie on Sept. 27) we played scared, we played not to win and this game was similar to that in the first half. But in the second half, we decided to go out and play hard and they were determined, we passed the ball better, we made plays, we defended better … we defended like Swiss cheese in the first half and it’s not like we were playing against nine All-Americans, it’s a good Bethel team, but … we just didn’t do that well.”
But LaValle made sure that the Wildcats would not get any momentum in the second half to mount a comeback, thanks to three second half goals — giving her 26 postseason goals in her Notre Dame career.
Three of the scores came on passes from Kydes.
“Brianna is just amazing,” LaValle said. “The way we practice and the way we play together, we all kind of have that chemistry where we know how to play with each other.”
“Sam keeps getting better and better and Brianna has been our most consistent player all season long by far,” Mones said. “Usually when I coach girls, they don’t improve, (Brianna’s) improved. She’s been solid, consistent … a great passer, a great defender. She’s done it all.”
ND-FAIRFIELD 5, BETHEL 1
BETHEL 1 0—1
ND-FAIRFIELD 2 3—5
Records: ND-Fairfield 14-2-3; Bethel 5-7-5. Goals: ND-F - Samantha LaValle 5; B - Annie Bedore. Assists: ND-F - Brianna Kydes 3, Carly Zajac, Erika Quinones; B - Stephanie Bierce. Goalies: ND-F - Samantha Camacho (3 saves); B - Natalia Redmond (9 saves). Shots: ND-F - 10; B - 4