Island Orthotic Curling Rangers’ Katie Arnott, right, stops the ball with her foot causing Kayla Bailey of Clancy’s FC to outrun it during their semifinal match at the Wellington Street Sports Complex Wednesday. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
Hannah Connolly has always had a knack for scoring goals.
She struck 15 times in the Corner Brook Women’s Soccer League’s regular season, the second highest total behind only the 22 scored by Jade Regular of the Under-18s.
The key, she said, is to use speed and get quick touches to beat defenders, but then, when she nears the net, everything slows down.
“I take a couple of seconds to think about where I’m going to aim the ball and crack it at the net,” she said. “I try to pace myself and take my time.”
Connolly scored again on Wednesday night at Wellington Street Sports Complex as her Rangers defeated Clancy’s FC of Stephenville 4-1 to advance to the championship game on Aug. 27.
Hannah Bradbury, Sam Meaney and Michelle Noseworthy also disturbed the mesh for the victors.
Abigail Penton had the only goal for the Stephenville contingent.
The Rangers will now meet the Under-18s in the final, a team that beat them earlier this week in penalty kicks to book their own spot in the final. The Under-18s also defeated the Rangers 1-0 in last year’s final.
“It meant basically everything to us to be able to get into the final and have redemption,” Connolly said. “We knew were going to meet them again. We felt pretty good about tonight.”
Bradbury began the scoring in the 20th minute, before Meaney added another in the 26th.
Noseworthy put the Rangers up 3-0 in the 32nd, a lead that lasted until half-time.
In the 64th minute, Connolly gave her side the four-goal advantage.
Penton got the losing side on the board late, in the 82nd minute.
If there was anything for the Rangers to learn from Monday night’s loss to the younger, faster Under-18s, it’s that they need to come out stronger from the opening whistle.
“They dominated the first half of the half, I guess, but then the second half we stepped it up,” said Connolly. “I felt we were all over them, we just couldn’t finish. We couldn’t make that final touch on the ball.”
Clancy’s wasn’t a team to be overlooked, however. They were solid in their inaugural season playing an abbreviated schedule and finished in third place with a 5-4-1 record.
“It’s great having them in the league,” Connolly said. “They’re a really fast team and comparable to the Under-18s.”
It was a successful year, all things considered, for the Stephenville crew. There’s no shame in a third-place finish and a loss to the always-powerful Rangers.
“We expected to give them a good run,” said Symone Hunt. “A bit better than this actually, but the Rangers are hard to play against.
“They’re strong on the ball, they make good passes and they’re smart,” she added. “They’re a team that knows where each other is going to be. They’re all one unit.”
Hunt believes her team could enjoy a similar symmetry if they stick together and keep playing year after year. She said that while the Stephenville soccer program isn’t as big as Corner Brook’s, there’s a lot of good talent there.
“Team chemistry will come,” she said. “We don’t understand each other perfectly yet, but we’ll gel eventually.”