Schickler: Lady Wreckers take us on a Cinderella run
Updated 1:23 am, Thursday, November 24, 2011
What the Staples girls soccer team accomplished this fall was remarkable.
Staples proved during its Cinderella run to the Class LL semifinals that it's a legitimate team by winning three road games against teams that have recently won a championship.
The Lady Wreckers were on a mission after being edged out for the final FCIAC playoff berth on a tie-breaker, and their performance in the Class LL tournament confirmed they belonged in the tournament and their falling short was a fluke.
During the regular season, Staples had two one-goal losses in games that could have ended up tied and played to two ties in games it could have won. If the Lady Wreckers had a better result in either of those four games, they would have made the FCIAC tournament, and who knows what they could have accomplished in that tournament.
Granted, Staples did have two horrific performances this season, a 4-0 loss at Danbury in which the team just didn't show up, and a 4-1 loss at Trumbull in the pouring rain in which it turned in a lackluster performance. But other than those two bad games, it played well all year.
Once the Class LL tournament began, the 20th-seeded Lady Wreckers played like they were on a mission, starting with a 3-1 win at New Milford -- this year's SWC champions. What they did after New Milford was magical. First, Staples showed its grit by defeating fourth-seeded Shelton, 1-0, (14-11), in the fourth round of penalty kicks in what was the most exciting fall sports events I've witnessed this fall. Shelton was the defending Class LL champion and looked as strong as last year's team that won it all.
Next up for the Lady Wreckers was an impressive 2-1 win at fifth-seeded Westhill, the 2009 Class LL champion and 2010 Class LL runnerup. Beating Westhill was impressive because Staples erased a 1-0 deficit and defeated a team it hasn't defeated in recent years.
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Although the clock struck midnight for the Lady Wreckers Saturday in a 2-1 (3-1) loss to top-seeded Glastonbury in the semifinals, what they did was remarkable because they had a chance to win that game. Moreover, it's unusual for a 20th-seed to take a top-seeded team to the limit.
What the loss to the Lady Tomahawks showed was that the soccer gods can take back what they give, with penalty kicks being the deciding factor. Staples was able to advance because it won a game on penalty kicks and then saw its season end because it lost on penalty kicks.
As Lady Wreckers coach Nikki Ross said, she hates to win and lose a game on penalty kicks and one can understand how she feels. At the end of the day, penalty kicks come down to luck but then again, there's a lot of luck involved in soccer (the phrase `unlucky' was said at many soccer games).
Even though it's ideal to settle games on the field, penalty kicks are a necessary evil in soccer (playing more than two overtime periods is too much).
Overall, Staples should be commended for a good season, not because of the way the girls performed but for how they carry themselves on and off the pitch. With four freshmen making huge contributions to the Lady Wreckers, their future is even brighter and they could be hoisting up a title within the next three years.