It's been a season of firsts for the Fairfield Ludlowe boys soccer team, and Monday it added yet another impressive one to the list.
The Falcons, having already qualified for the first time, defeated Staples on its own turf for the first time, rallying from a 1-0 deficit to top the Wreckers 2-1 at Loeffler field. Ludlowe leaped over Staples into third place in the conference with one game remaining.
"It was more about pride today and we showing that we are for real and to come to Staples and beat Staples here is a big statement," Ludlowe coach Kevin O'Hara said.
Billy Donatuti scored the winning goal with 23:04 left in the game after a miscommunication in the Wreckers backline. Staples goalie Brenden Price and defender Andrew Puchala collided as the two attempted to clear a ball hit into the box by Matthew Galle. The ball bounced off the upper body of Donatuti off the deflection and into the back of the net.
"That was hard work. We were able to get into the corner and serve a ball and their two players collided and (Donatuti) was able to get a flick on it. That goal was pure hard work."
For two teams locked into the FCIAC playoffs, Staples and Ludlowe fought as if a conference championship was already at stake. They fought for every inch on the pitch and a total of five yellow cards were handed out.
"I just tried to get my boys to match (Staples) and their intensity and how they press and going after every 50/50 ball," O'Hara said. "Give credit to my kids; that is a great team."
The Wreckers (10-3-2) outshot the Falcons 14-8 and had plenty of looks at the net, but most of their quality chances -- off set pieces -- fell into the hands of Ludlowe goalie Frederick Meagher or went wide.
"We were not pleased, it was not a Staples performance," Woog said. "Give Ludlowe a lot of credit for sticking with their game plan. They got the job done and we didn't."
"We had opportunities that we didn't convert and (Ludlowe) did certainly that."
Staples opened the scoring with 4:18 left in the first half. Wreckers captain Diego Alanis drilled a long shot that was spilled by Meagher. The clearing attempt deflected a pair of bodies and flew into the net.
Ludlowe (11-3-1) soon responded and tied the game right before halftime, thanks to a header off a corner kick by Richie Bellucci.
Both teams are in line to host a FCIAC quarterfinal, which is scheduled for Friday. While the playoffs are an annual occurrence for the Wreckers, the Falcons will get to enjoy the occasion for the first time.
"It's really been a magical year; the kids have worked really hard to have 11 wins," O'Hara said. "For us to have 11 wins and be a No. 3 or 4 seed in FCIAC's; the kids are excited."