GREENWICH -- Like most of the boys soccer teams in the FCIAC, Greenwich experienced its share of disappointing moments over the years, courtesy of longtime nemesis Staples.
The Cardinals dropped two one-goal decisions to the Wreckers last season, including a hard-fought loss in the FCIAC quarterfinals, then were edged by Staples in a regular season matchup on Oct. 8.
On Friday, Greenwich gained a measure of revenge, recording its biggest win of the season to date.
Picking the best time to play their most complete match of the season, the third-seeded Cardinals registered a convincing 3-0 victory over the sixth-seeded Wreckers in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament.
Greenwich (13-2-2) advanced to the semifinals where it will face second-seeded Ridgefield on Monday at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.
Staples, which was edged by Trumbull, 1-0, in last fall's FCIAC final, won't be playing in the league's championship game for the first time in five seasons.
"I am really proud of what the boys have done," Greenwich head coach Kurt Putnam said. "We got that monkey off our back -- they are our Achilles' heel. Staples is a well-respected program, so when you beat them you take that win as being more precious because they don't lose that many games."
Will Gittings scored in the first half, while Joao Galbier and Pieter Zenner tallied during a five-minute span in the second half for Greenwich.
"The entire team went out there looking for a little revenge," Zenner said. "I have lost to them four times since I've been on this team. They knocked us out of the quarterfinals last year, so we definitely weren't going to let that happen again."
Staples, which captured three straight FCIAC titles (2008-2010) before losing in the finals a year ago, found itself on the road in the first round of the tournament for the first time in quite a while.
"I can't remember the last time we were on the road in the quarterfinals," Staples head coach Dan Woog said. "That happened because we started out the season slowly."
Applying pressure from the outset, Greenwich kept Staples on its heels the majority of the first half. Receiving a through ball, Aidan Rafferty almost tallied in the 20th minute for the Cardinals, but Wreckers star goalkeeper James Hickok dove forward to make a save.
But the Cardinals capitalized on their next opportunity two minutes later. Gittings buried a free kick from 20 yards out, perfectly placing the ball inside the left post, giving Greenwich a 1-0 advantage.
"Knowing their goalie James is an incredible player, I knew I had to hit it as hard as I could and hope something good happened," Gittings said. "The last time we played them we came out flat with no punch in our step. Tonight, we came out on fire. It's been a while since we've beaten them, so it's sweet to win."
Greenwich increased its lead in the 54th minute. Stopping the ball from going out of bounds on the right sideline, midfielder Jamie Kyle sent a pass upfield to Paul Quiroga, who crossed it to a cutting Galbier. The forward got one touch on the ball, knocking it inside the left post for a 2-0 lead.
Zenner knocked in a rebound in the 59th minute for a 3-0 lead.
The Wreckers, who generated only three shots on goal in the first half, put more pressure on in the second half.
"The first half we gave Greenwich a lot of respect," Woog said. "We probably could have played a little higher. But we pushed forward more in the second half."
GREENWICH 3, STAPLES 0
STAPLES 0 0 -- 0
GREENWICH 1 2 -- 3
Records: Staples 10-5-2; Greenwich 13-2-2.
Goals: G -- Will Gittings, Joao Galiber, Pieter Zenner. Assists: G -- Mateo Gowland, Paul Quiroga. Goalies: S -- James Hickok (8 saves); Emmett Clarke (5 saves).