Powered by four second-half goals, the South Windsor High girls soccer team coasted to a 5-1 victory over Bristol Eastern in their home opener to kick off the season Tuesday afternoon.
Christine Allard scored twice, while Rebecca Karlins, Amy McConnell and Lauren Futtner each tallied for the Bobcats, who overcame a sluggish first half to pull away from the Lancers to earn their first victory.
“That’s the way we play,” said South Windsor head coach Ed Duclos. “
Allard gave South Windsor an early lead with a header into the back of the netting in the 25th minute to score her first goal of the year.
“Christine was All-CCC last year and she’s ready to be a dominant force this year,” Duclos said.
But the Lancers came right back and got a rare goal against the Bobcats (they allowed just four all of last year) when Kayla Violette scored on a counterattack in the 36th minute.
Bristol Eastern continued to apply pressure, as Alyssa Dess fizzed a shot over the crossbar with just 32 seconds left in the first half.
“I told them if we could bottle that last five minutes of the first half, we would be very good,” Lancers head coach Roland Loranger said. “Once we scored that goal, we picked it up. I was impressed and we were playing our game.”
South Windsor regrouped, however, with Karlins poaching her first goal of the year in the 52nd minute to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead. The flood gates opened from there, as McConnell scored just five minutes later. Allard added her second of the game on a penalty in the 67th minute.
Futtner, a senior, followed with her first-ever varsity goal when she knocked in a corner kick in the 69th minute.
It was an auspicious beginning for South Windsor, which has aspirations of advancing deep in the state Class LL tourney. Last year, the Bobcats earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye by going 11-0-4 in the regular season, only to lose 1-0 to No. 18 Trumbull in the second round of the tourney. Trumbull wound up as the eventual runner up to Glastonbury.
Duclos responded to that defeat by changing the Bobcats’ style of play to a more attack-oriented 4-3-3 in which the midfielders are charged with distributing the ball to the three forwards, including Allard and Karlins, who were the team’s leading scorers from a year ago.
After an early injury knocked out attacking midfielder Danielle Karpiej just a minute into the game, South Windsor struggled to find its footing in the first half.
“It’s all a little new to us,” Duclos said.
That changed in the final 40 minutes, when the Bobcats stopped playing long balls into the corners and started moving with fluidity and purpose.
“[Karpiej] is a huge part [of our team],” Duclos said. “We funnel a lot of things through her.”
If South Windsor remains healthy, it could compete for the CCC North title with the likes of Glastonbury, Manchester and Wethersfield, among others.
Bristol Eastern, for its part, will regroup having played a solid first half before succumbing to South Windsor’s pressure in the final third of the field.
“We’ve got a young team and we were playing a very good opponent at their place,” Loranger said. “We have to stay positive…This game here obviously showed some glaring weaknesses we have to improve on. We’re gonna get there. It’s a nice team with some nice talent.”
South Windsor is scheduled to face Windsor at home on Sept. 14, while Bristol Eastern travels to Meriden to face Platt, also on Sept. 14. Both games are at 3:45 p.m.