It came down to the final moment for the second straight year, and once again, Fairfield Warde prevailed against Staples.
Last year, Warde was on the road and scored a last-second win. This time around, the visiting Wreckers had what looked like a game-tying tally waived off because the team's shot came from outside the striking circle.
The Mustangs, as a result, escaped with a 1-0 win over the Wreckers on Tuesday.
"They just worked so hard the whole game," Del Vecchio said, referring to Tuesday's loss. "It would have been great to go into overtime."
Instead, a second-half goal by Warde's Darci Byington, which came off a scramble following a Mustang penalty corner, was the difference. The Mustangs improved to 3-1 and Staples fell to 1-2-0-1.
The outcome was still in question late as Staples earned a penalty corner as time was expiring. Elizabeth Bennewitz made a strong play to stop a Warde clearing attempt, setting up the corner. She then appeared to cash in -- her shot sparked a wild celebration that began with Staples' players jumping for joy -- but the would-be tying goal was waived off.
Warde goaltender Katy Stepsis made a series of game-saving stops in the final seconds as Staples poured on the chances late. Stepsis finished with seven saves, while her counterpart, Jodie Baris, recorded nine stops.
Staples doubled up Warde in penalty corners, 8-4.
"We usually don't get that lucky," said Warde coach Jodie Shannon, adding that when opposing teams manage that many chances, her team hasn't fared well in the past.
Stapes assistant coach Kristin Schulz noted that the Wreckers did a great job of generating chances, but they just couldn't take advantage of their opportunities.
"We just didn't capitalize on what we had in the last quarter," she said.
Schulz added that the Wreckers had been a second-half team heading into the match, but applauded them for playing a full 60 minutes on Tuesday.
"Tonight we were an entire-game team," she said lightheartedly. "It's definitely a positive step."
Players from both teams expected a close contest. In addition to last year's 2-1 Warde win, the teams tied this preseason.
"It's been a tough match the last few years," Shannon said.
Shannon said she was pleased with the play of Liz Gallucci, Megan Hines, Emily Allen, Byington, and Stepsis. The Warde goalie may have saved the game in the final seconds, but she credited her teammates for being there.
"I'm just relying on my teammates because I know if I don't get there, they will," Stepsis said. "We're always backing each other up."
The Wreckers, despite the outcome, believe they can build off the performance.
"That's the best game they've played so far, so we have a lot to look forward to," Del Vecchio said.
This was Warde's Play 4 the Cure Game, and the team raised more than $400 for the National Foundation For Cancer Research.
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
Fairfield Warde 1, Staples 0
STAPLES 0 0 -- 0
WARDE 0 1 -- 1
Records: Staples 1-2-0-1; Fairfield Warde 3-1.
Goals: W -- Darci Byington. Goalies: S -- Jodie Baris (9 saves); W -- Katie Stepsis (7). Shots: S -- 7; FW -- 10.