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NORTH STONINGTON — Seeding numbers can sometimes be misleading come state tournament time.
Take Monday’s Class S tournament game between the Wheeler High girls’ soccer team and Capital Prep for example.
The 21st seeded Lions dominated the 12th seeded Trailblazers in a 2-0 win and earned a state tournament win for the second consecutive year.
The 2-0 score did not indicate how thoroughly Wheeler outplayed Capital Prep.
The Lions (7-9) outshot the Trailblazers 26-6 and played virtually the entire first half in the Capital Prep zone.
Wheeler’s senior forward Jess Muller had four legitimate scoring opportunities in the first half by herself. Capital Prep had just three first-half shots.
Muller scored on the first of those opportunities just a minute and a half into the game.
“The first goal we felt good about,” Muller said. “One of our players, Mirandah Ackley, tried to shoot it, it got blocked and I got control of it somehow and I shot it into the corner of the net.”
Muller leads the Lions in goals with six. It is her 17th career goal over a four-year span.
Muller couldn’t cash in on any of her next three opportunities, including a shot that hit a post, but she was hardly alone in missing out on scoring opportunities.
Eight of the Lions’ 17 first-half shots were legitimate scoring opportunities but Wheeler only led 2-0 at the break.
“We definitely could have had a lot more goals out there today,” Wheeler coach Charles Roark said. “We left a lot of them out on the field today. That’s something we’re going to work on tomorrow (in practice).”
Ackley scored the Lions’ second goal on a penalty kick 9 minutes into the game.
The Lions got the opportunity after Capital Prep was called for a handball in the box. It was Ackley’s fourth goal of the season.
The offense evened out a bit in the second half, but Wheeler still carried the play and had plenty more chances to score. Capital Prep’s only good scoring opportunity came late in the second half on a partial break by forward Dahza Ward but she missed just wide.
Capital Prep played in the Constitution State Conference and finished the season with a record of 9-7.
Despite posting a better record than the Lions, the competition in the CSC included many tech schools and was below the ECC Small Division.
“We’ve definitely played against tougher competition in the regular season,” Roark said. “It prepares you for th ecompetition in the state tournament, that’s why when we qualify for the state tournament it’s a big deal.
“Some teams from the CSC, their strength of schedule is not quite what we’ve faced (in the ECC-Small). We’ve faced St. Bernard, Lyman (Memorial) and some (ECC) Medium Schools. It definitely does prepare us for the tournament.”
The only common opponent Wheeler and Capital Prep shared in the regular season was Windham.
The Lions lost 1-0 and 2-1 in two games to the Whippets but Capital Prep lost 5-1 and 3-0 in its two regular season meetings.
Missed opportunities and CSC opponent aside, Roark said he was happy with the win and to be moving to the next round of the tournament.
“It’s a good win for us. Just getting to the second round of the state tournament is tough,” he said.
Fifth-seeded Portland (12-4) hosts the Lions in the second round of the tournament Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Portland ended Wheeler’s season in 2012 with a 5-0 win in the second round of the Class S tournament.
“We have a much better opponent (in Portland),” Roark said. “We’ll only have a couple of opportunities against them so we’ll need to make the most of them.”
Muller said her team is confident it will have a good showing Wednesday.
“Last year we played them in the second round and lost by (five) but we played well in the first half so I’m expecting a win Wednesday.”
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