Two goals by O'Neill propel Cowgirls to quarterfinals
Litchfield players Caroline Donovan, left, and Ali O'Neill celebrate after a 2-1 win over Housatonic in the Class S tournament second round on Thursday. John McKenna photos
Litchfield's girls soccer team has reached the Class S tournament quarterfinals for the first time in five years on the strength of a 2-1 win over Housatonic in Falls Village on Thursday.
Ali O'Neill scored both of the Cowgirls' goals in the first half and her team held off a determined Housatonic rally in the last 20 minutes to advance to the quarterfinals. Litchfield (12-6-0) will play at East Hampton on Saturday at 2 p.m.
"We were ready to play and felt good about ourselves from the beginning," said Litchfield coach Marissa Quesnel, whose debut season as head coach has been an overwhelming success. "The girls deserved this win because they've worked so hard and are devoted to each other."
Quesnel, a high-scoring forward who led Litchfield to the Class S championship game in 2011 and went on to play at Central Connecticut State University, served as an assistant coach to Brian Mongeau last year. When Mongeau stepped down, Quesnel was the logical choice to replace him.
"It's been a blast coaching this group," Quesnel said. "They're willing to listen and be coached."
With the Cowgirls up 2-0 and trying their best to kill clock in the final 20 minutes, Housatonic began to show some life and scored off a direct kick that Litchfield goalie Sydney Donohue got her gloves on but couldn't hold. Sierra O'Neil was on the loose ball and knocked it into the goal.
The Mountaineers kept pressing but couldn't notch the equalizer as a defense led by Amber Marino held.
Allie Davenport sends the ball downfield for the Cowgirls.
Ali O'Neill winds up to drive the ball past Sadie Grusauski
Litchfield goalie Sydney Donohue and Amber Marino can't stop Housatonic from scoring its lone goal.
High-scoring Cowgirl Christina Orsini, right, was tightly marked the entire game by Christina Winburn.
Allie Davenport protects the ball from Sadie Grusauski.
Amber Marino gets her head on the ball.
Molly Andrulis, center, and Roxanne Snowden, left, fight for the ball with Neve O'Connell.
Amber Marino controls the ball ahead of Neve O'Connell.
Ali O'Neill, right, and Aliza Luminati give chase.
Roxanne Snowden works to gain control of the ball.