Shaw and Rossi lead Staples past Wilton, into FCIAC semifinals
The Staples girls soccer team waited all afternoon for sophomore duo Lydia Shaw and Charlotte Rossi to link up in attack during its FCIAC quarterfinal match with Wilton. With the game in the balance and time winding down, Shaw and Rossi combined twice to dash Wilton's hopes and keep its memorable season alive.
Shaw and Rossi each scored goals, sending No. 4 Staples into the FCIAC semifinals with a 2-0 win over Wilton at Loeffler Field. The Wreckers will take on top-seeded St. Joseph or No. 8 New Canaan on Monday night at Wilton High School for a spot in the championship game.
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"We've been talking to the players individually about certain movements and what they can do to get closer (to each other)," Staples coach Barry Beattie said. "The two goals were exactly what we've been working on; it's great to see the girls picking it up."
Neither team managed to create opportunities in a tense first half. Wilton made a tactical adjustment at half and controlled the early stages of the second. The Warriors almost took the lead when Laine Parsons evaded the last defender, but her angle was sharp and the shot went wide.
Wilton continued to threaten to break the deadlock, but was struck on the counter attack with 19:23 left in the game. Rossi picked up a pass from the edge of the box and played it across to Shaw, who used her pace to create space for a well-placed shot.
"We have seven sophomores in this group and five were starters last year (as freshmen)," Beattie said. "For them its new territory in the FCIAC playoffs, but they're here to do a job and they enjoy it."
With Wilton pushing up the field in search of an equalizer, Staples (11-2-4) pounced again on the break to wrap up the win. This time, Shaw fed Rossi for an equally impressive finish with 4:19 left.
"All these games are going to be tough," Beattie said. "We just relay the message that these games are going to have fine margins and we scored against the run of play they applied pressure.
Chances were few and far between over the 80 minutes of play. Staples scored on both of its significant opportunities to the dismay of the Warriors (9-2-6) bench. The teams combined for 10 shots and five corner kicks. The loss was just Wilton's second of the season.
"We made our adjustments in the second half," Wilton coach John Salvatore said. "Going in we moved some stuff around and we had the looks we wanted. We just didn't capitalize on them, that was our window. We had to put away our chances and (Staples) did."
"This game was one of our strongest defensively," Root said. "I was really proud of the kids next to me, keeping their composure not freaking out, not whiffing clears. Communication is huge; our defense is all over the field."