Staples girls soccer edged by Warde
The Staples and Fairfield Warde girls soccer teams battled it out at Loeffler Field on Tuesday afternoon in a possible FCIAC playoff preview that featured intense emotion on both sides. Physical play was rampant and space was restricted for most of the 80 minutes.
Warde junior Hannah Allen had the final say, converting a shot from just inside the box off a corner kick into a goal to send the Mustangs to a 2-1 win over Staples to remain undefeated this season (8-0-1). Staples dropped to 7-2-1 with the result.
"It came out to me and I'm usually holding back (on corner kicks)," Allen said. "I didn't think it was going to go in, but it did; I was surprised."
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The Mustangs came out attacking in the second half, knocking on the Staples goal before Allen crashed in. A corner kick was cleared right to Allen's feet before she hit a shot that went into the net.
"We talked to the girls at halftime about picking up their intensity, picking up their play," Warde coach Tom Cunningham said. "They were aware of what they need to do. We played a much cleaner game, we challenged more; we strung passes together well in the second half."
The Wreckers were given a chance to draw level with 20 minutes left after Maggie Walsh was tripped in the penalty area. The midfielder hit the ensuing penalty over the bar and the Mustangs kept their lead.
"She bounced back," Staples coach Barry Beattie said. "Her performance the 20 minutes after her penalty miss shows why she's a captain and a leader on the field. She'll get the next one and she'll score the next one."
Meg Root gave Staples an early 1-0 lead with a header off a corner kick by Lauren Garcia. The goal was just the second the Mustangs had allowed all season.
"It was a wakeup call for us," Cunningham said. "We needed to challenge ourselves to score more goals. We can't go into every game thinking we can win 1-0."
The Wreckers had a chance to double their lead soon after, but Lydia Shaw fired just wide of the post on a breakaway with only the keeper to beat.
Sarah Reilly scored the game-tying goal for Warde with 12 minutes left in the first half. Taylor Gabrenas had her shot saved from the wing by Wreckers goalie Mary Bennewitz, but the rebound fell in Reilly's path to finish into the empty net.
Bennewitz made a pair of fingertip saves onto the crossbar to keep the Wreckers alive. Gabrenas also hit the crossbar with six minutes left in search of an insurance goal. Staples had a trio of corners late but couldn't convert.
"I still go away thinking we're the better team," Beattie said. "Fairfield Warde are always good, always pose a threat. In terms of chances, two more penalties we could have had. I still go away thinking we could have won this game."