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The Southern Connecticut Conference recently presented the Guilford girls’ soccer squad with an honor in recognition of the team’s achievements from the 2019 season. Pictured with the award are Madison Gambardella and Gabi Garcia-Perez, who were the team’s senior captains throughout the season. (Photo courtesy of Kim Gambardella )
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The Guilford girls’ soccer team had an outstanding 2019 season that saw the squad win its sixth Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) title and then claim its ninth state championship in program history. Guilford notched five victories in the Class L State Tournament on its way to taking the crown, capping off its run with 2-1 win versus East Lyme in the final. As a result of these achievements, Guilford recently received an award for the SCC’s Best Moment/Performance from the recent school year, following an online poll in which more than 6,000 votes were cast.
Senior captains Madison Gambardella and Gabi Garcia-Perez played a huge role in Guilford’s historic run last fall. The team finished with an overall record of 18-2-4 that included eight playoff victories, seven of which were decided by a single goal.
“We were up against 26 other moments [and] performances,” said Gambardella. “My favorite moment from this season was winning the Class L state championship. I take great pride in playing for Guilford High School.”
Gambardella and Garcia-Perez are both going to continue their soccer careers in college. Gambardella is attending Babson College in the fall, and Garcia-Perez will play soccer at the University of New Haven.
Just like Gambardella, Garcia-Perez said that the highlight of the year came when Guilford hoisted the Class L state title. With Guilford trailing 1-0 in the championship game, Garcia-Perez scored the tying goal, marking one of several clutch postseason performances for the captain.
“My favorite moment from this season was scoring the equalizing goal in the Class L state championship,” Garcia-Perez said. “This was the first goal I had scored during regular time throughout the season. I had scored the last penalty kicks for both the quarterfinal and semifinal State Tournament games.”
Gambardella and Garcia-Perez played center back and center midfield, respectively, for Guilford, and they were both leaders on the pitch. Gambardella earned All-SCC First Team and All-State Second Team honors for her performance during the year. She was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the SCC Tournament for a Guilford team that always played staunch defense.
“I played side by side with my sister Taylor [who was a junior last season] on defense for the past three years. We have great chemistry together, and I know she always has my back on the field,” Gambardella said. “I’m proud that our defensive line had 15 shutouts this past season.”
Garcia-Perez and Gambardella both sharpen their soccer skills by participating in the sport on a year-round basis. Gambardella competes for Connecticut Football Club’s United Elite team, while Garcia-Perez trains with her father Dennis.
“My family has been a tremendous influence in my soccer career, especially my dad. Being a player and a coach himself, he has pushed me to work hard for what I want and has helped me achieve my goals by training me personally,” said Garcia-Perez. “My brother Sergio has a very high soccer IQ and is extremely skillful. My mom Andrea has never missed a game and attends my practices whenever she has the chance. She especially enjoys watching our family practices where my dad trains my brother and I on different topics.”
Guilford High School was well-represented when it came to nominations for the SCC’s Best Moment/Performance Award. One nomination commemorated the five Guilford teams—girls’ cross country, field hockey, boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, and girls’ volleyball—who won their respective conference titles during the 2019 fall season, marking the most that any school has won in a single campaign in SCC history. Additionally, the volleyball team was nominated separately after capturing its first SCC title since 1994 last fall. The girls’ ice hockey team was also nominated following a season in which the squad won the SCC Tournament for the first time this winter.
After going 10-2-4 during the regular season, the Guilford girls’ soccer team posted wins over Foran (1-0) and Mercy (1-0) in the SCC Tournament to advance to a championship matchup against Shelton. Guilford earned a 2-1 win versus the Gaels to secure the SCC crown.
In the Class L State Tournament, Guilford beat North Haven by a 2-0 score in a first-round contest and then claimed a 2-1 (5-3 on penalty kicks) victory versus Law in the second round. Guilford earned a 1-0 double-overtime win against Pomperaug in the quarterfinals, followed by a 2-1 (3-1 on penalty kicks) victory over Suffield in the semis, and a 2-1 triumph against East Lyme in the title bout. Lily Riccio, who was a senior last season, scored the game-winning goal in the state final and was named the Most Valuable Player of the game.
In addition to the Madison Gambardella, Taylor Gambardella, Garcia-Perez, and Riccio, the athletes on the 2019 Guilford girls’ soccer squad were Claire Mackenzie, Angie Rusconi, Lauren Hess, Maria Jennings, Maggie Mandel, and Emma McSweet, who were seniors; Julia Rubbo, Olivia Ste. Marie, Kelsey Lynch, Sophie Watrous, Sophia Gabriel, Lexie Greene, and Moira Kellaher; who were in their junior years; Audrey Kamen, Brenna Fissell, Taylor Farace, Olivia McMahon, Gabby Sansone, Abby Moore, Amelia Rattet, Lauren Cunneen, and Lily Mariconda, who were sophomores; and Kat Baseggio, Ari Tomassi, and Ava Lepro, who were freshmen.
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