Staples falls to Warde in girls soccer
WESTPORT — Making save after save and coming off her goal line to collect loose balls in a flash, Warde goalie Mollie Kerrigan dominated the 18-yard box as Staples tried to get a goal that would save a point and perhaps its FCIAC playoff future.
But after giving up a goal in the first half, the UConn-bound Kerrigan pitched a shutout in the second half to send Warde to yet another win ahead of the postseason.
The Mustangs (13-1-1) continued their stellar year and bounced back from their lone defeat with a 2-1 win over the Wreckers on Tuesday in a rematch of last fall’s FCIAC final that ended in a draw and a trophy for both teams.
“We’ve been winning games, but we’ve been winning close games,” said Warde coach Tom Cunningham. “Obviously going through the FCIAC, there are a lot of good teams out there. Everyone is giving us a battle and we’re lucky to have (Kerrigan) back there.”
Warde fell 1-0 to St. Joseph on Saturday, but rebounded to beat Staples for a fourth straight time in the regular season.
“We had a tough string of games with Ludlowe, St. Joseph and Staples,” Cunningham said. “We went 2-1, are happy with the results and it’s a good way to prepare us for the postseason.”
The game-winning goal was scored by freshman Avery Oracheff with 27 minutes left in the second half, but the points were far from sealed at that juncture. Staples fired eight shots at Kerrigan in the second 40 minutes and she saved them all.
“It was definitely a close battle,” Kerrigan said. “(Staples) had some good offensive threats; the key for us was support from the defense, getting behind each other and playing as a team.”
Kerrigan’s last save came with about eight minutes left; she made a point-blank save after a free kick wasn’t cleared. Warde settled down from there and was able to run out the clock.
“When stuff like that happens so quickly, it’s just a natural instinct,” Kerrigan said of the stop. “It was a good shot; I was just able to get behind it.”
Hannah Allen gave the Mustangs the lead with 29:31 left in the first half when Lauren Tangney blew past several Staples defenders and sprung Alexa Montani on the wing. Montani delivered a perfect cross to Allen for the goal.
Charlotte Rossi scored Staples’ goal with 13 minutes left in the first half, gathering a pass from Lydia Shaw and beating Kerrigan with a quick shot.
“I thought we applied great pressure,” Staples coach Barry Beattie said. “If we go through a game against Warde and give them just two chances in the game, we’ve done something right.”
Shaw had several chances in quick succession in the second period, but it wasn’t Staples’ afternoon as it seeks to seal an FCIAC playoff spot.
Despite the defeat which leaves them squarely on the FCIAC playoff bubble, the Wreckers were encouraged with dominating play against one of the favorites to win the league. Staples has two league games left: against Trinity Catholic Thursday and Danbury next week.
“If we pick up two wins we should be safe for FCIACs,” Beattie said. “It might be tight but I think we’ll be all right.”
Warde 2, Staples 1
WARDE 1 1—2
STAPLES 1 0—1
Records: Warde 13-1-1; Staples 7-6-1. Goals: W—Hannah Allen, Avery Oracheff; S—Charlotte Rossi. Assists: W—Allen, Alexa Montani; S—Lydia Shaw. Goalies: W—Mollie Kerrigan (12 saves); S—Camryn Ragland (7).