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Waterford girls earn trip to Class M soccer final

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published November 13. 2013 4:00AM

Middletown - It was surely more complicated. But for the sake of anyone who missed Waterford High School's bout with history Tuesday night, here is a loose outline of how and why the Lancers will play for the Class M girls' soccer championship Saturday:

They had Melina Spanos and Tolland didn't.

Spanos, illustrating she has come by the skills that earned her a scholarship to Division I University of Hartford honestly, scored both goals in Waterford's 2-1 victory on the turf of Middletown High School.

Third-seeded Waterford (15-2-2) will play No. 5 Haddam-Killingworth in the finals Saturday at a site and time to be determined by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

This is Waterford's first state title game since 2002.

"Our best player got one at the end," Waterford coach - make that elated Waterford coach - Rob Brule said. "That's why we have arguably the player of the year."

Spanos' second goal, her 24th of the season, came with 17:19 remaining to snap a 1-1 tie.

"I remember hearing someone say there was a prediction that Tolland would beat us and win the state championship," Spanos said. "I was just like, 'no, that's not happening tonight.' We proved everyone that came to this game wrong."

The folks who came to the game were bundled, braving temperatures around 30 degrees with a wind more persistent than Spanos. Waterford's fans remained in the bleachers long enough to see their team jog in lockstep precision across the field to thank them after the game.

After they jogged back, they formed a circle, arms around each other, listening to Brule's postgame State of the Union.

"Who'da thunk this?" he said, illustrating that coaches needn't be profound to command attention. The expressions on the faces of his players suggested they're not finished.

"I would never rule it out, but, no, I never thought we'd get to a state final," Brule said. "I was more concerned with how we'd replace eight seniors right up the middle and figure out how to be competitive. We're getting hot at the right time. I don't think anyone sees things like this coming except the (perennial state power) Suffields of the world."

Tolland's Melissa Azinheira scored in the 24th minute to give the second-seeded Eagles (14-3-2) the lead.

Spanos tied the game a little more than five minutes later the same way she'd give her team the lead, using her left foot.

"She'll use both feet, as we saw tonight," Brule said.

Waterford's defense made it a fairly perspiration free second half for freshman keeper Jordan Kovacs, who benefitted from the constant pressure Spanos and Claire Hurley kept running at Tolland.

"We have no quit in us," Brule said. "That's one of the best things about these kids."

m.dimauro@theday.com

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