RHAM extends shutout streak to eight games, beats Brookfield to advance in Class L
HEBRON — The RHAM girls soccer team hasn’t allowed a goal in now eight games, which means a strong defense has the Sachems dreaming big in Class L.
The Sachems didn’t have to do too much defending this commanding performance, though.
Second-half goals from Molly Bellmore and Carley Levesque gave top-seeded RHAM a 2-0 win over Brookfield Thursday to advance to the Class L quarterfinals. Seeking a first state crown since 2010, the Sachems will host Sheehan on Saturday.
“We have a well-balanced team,” said RHAM coach Nick Libera after his team improved to 14-1-2. “There’s not really a weak spot on the team; we’re also young and only returned four starters, so there was a time of getting used to playing with each other. But defense is definitely a strength.”
The breakthrough took longer than 50 minutes thanks to a brave Brookfield defense, particularly sophomore goalie Madison Genovese. She made a string of saves to keep it scoreless longer than the hosts would like and finished with 12 saves.
“We have a good defense and we’ve played well all year,” said Brookfield coach Rick Garofalo. “(Genovese) has kept us in a lot of games and she should go far. RHAM is a good team; we held with them but they’re not No. 1 in the state for no reason.”
It finally came at the hands of sophomore Bellmore, who finished in close after a ball was crossed. The relief was evident, and the strong defense more than held the advantage.
“It almost seemed for a while we were never going to score,” Libera said. “We were knocking on the door and had a couple of opportunities in the first half that we probably should have put away. Once we got one in the second half it was a relief.”
Levesque iced the win with 10 minutes left after Riley Ayer won a tackle in her own half, spurring a counter attack.
The Bobcats ended a season in which they qualified for the SWC playoffs at 9-6-4. The penalty shootout win against Bristol Central in the first round marked a successful return to the postseason, and a strong feeder program leaves high hopes for the future.
“We’re a young team and we’ll be back in states next year,” Garofalo said. “We had a great season; we are working to change the culture and we have a great feeder program.”
Seasoned in a difficult CCC, the Sachems hope a favorable draw in Class L will pay off with a trip to the final for a second time in three years.
“Not letting teams score, just playing really hard defense (gives us confidence),” Bailey Ayer said. “We just have to play together.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Bailey Ayer, RHAM: Ran the game from her defensive midfield possession.
“We were pretty confident we could find a goal; we were possessing a lot so we thought we could find the back of the net,” Riley Ayer said.