Gerrard's equalizer gets Staples a point against Wilton
WESTPORT -- Initially, Olivia Gerrard wasn't sure if she had actually scored, but the freshman left no doubt on the scoreboard.
Gerrard buried a cross from Chloe Rosenfeld with 15:24 remaining in the second half, helping the Staples High girls soccer team to a 1-1 draw with Wilton on Thursday afternoon at Loeffler Field.
The draw left Staples--which had lost its previous two matches against Danbury and Ridgefield--with a 1-3-2 record, while Wilton is now 2-1-2.
"I was shocked because I don't have a lot of confidence in front of the goal," said Gerrard, who has still scored three goals in her first six varsity games. "But by making that right in front, I know I can do anything. It definitely raised my confidence a lot."
The goal certainly impressed Staples' first-year head coach Heather Driscoll.
"We got into a dangerous position, and a great combination inside the 18 (-yard box), a great service and a one-touch ball into the back of the net," Driscoll said. "We'll take that."
With 25 minutes left in the first half, Bennewitz punched out a shot by Pearsall that seemed ticketed for the inside of the far past. Then with 3:20 left in match, Bennewitz robbed the University of Notre Dame-bound senior again with another diving stop. Two minutes earlier, Pearsall's attempt from just outside the box barely sailed over the crossbar.
Staples attempted nine shots but most of them missed the net. As a result, Wilton goalkeeper Liz Forrester recorded just two saves. Staples had an edge in corner kicks, 6-3.
"I thought it was a great result for us," Driscoll said. "I thought in the first half we had a couple chances to put it away and could have gone up early, so it was definitely great for us to come away with a tie. If we put away some of our opportunities early, maybe we could have gotten a win out of it."
The only goal Bennewitz allowed came on Annika Sheehan's breakaway with 3:04 left in the first half, and the Staples keeper nearly stopped that as well.
Sheehan was wide open on the right wing after taking a feed from Pearsall, and broke in alone on the Staples goal. Bennewitz came out to cut down the angle and got a piece of Sheehan's shot, slowing it down, but the ball trickled across the goal line.
The goal held up until Gerrard was in the right place at the right time to earn the Wreckers a much-needed point early in the season.
Staples appears to be still finding its way after graduating 10 seniors from last year's team that made a surprising run to the Class LL state semifinals.
"We're definitely a young team, which is a great thing going forward," Driscoll said. "But for this year, they've done a good job adjusting. They've been really receptive, they've worked hard, and I can't ask for anything more than that."
Bob Birge is a freelance writer