Staples girls soccer falls short in LL first round
NEWTOWN -- The Staples High girls soccer team didn't go out quietly in the Class LL state tournament.
The No. 27 Wreckers narrowly missed evening the score with sixth-seeded Newtown as time expired, as the Nighthawks squeaked out a 1-0 win in the first round on Friday afternoon at Blue and Gold Stadium.
Newtown made Brittany Tolla's first-half goal off an assist from Amy Martin stand up, pushing the Nighthawks (15-2-3) into the second round against No. 11 Greenwich on Monday.
The match nearly ended a lot differently.
As time began to wind down, Staples defender Julia Tziolis sent a long ball from near midfield all the way into the 18-yard box. The ball glanced off the foot of Chloe Rosenfield and Hannah Lewis sent a shot that sailed just wide as time expired.
"It's frustrating," Staples head coach Heather Driscoll said of the close finish. "I think it goes a little bit to the tune of our whole season."
The loss was Staples' (5-8-4) fourth one-goal defeat in a somewhat frustrating season. While the Wreckers fell under .500 early, losing three of their first five matches, they also suffered tough losses on the roster. Seniors Turner Block and Claire O'Halloran, along with sophomore Gabrielle McNees, all were sidelined at one point or another this year.
"They were pushing people forward like crazy trying to get a goal," Newtown head coach Marc Kenney said. "Maybe we were owed a lucky chip. After Tuesday night I thought we deserved a little bit of a break."
Kenney was referring to the South-West Conference championship game, in which Newtown lost a late 1-0 lead to Immaculate, and eventually fell 2-1.
Newtown goalkeeper Caitlin Yakush made nine saves and her counterpart, Mary Bennewitz, one of the many underclassmen on Staples' roster, stopped five shots.
Kenney credited Driscoll for doing a solid job with a young team--one that had eight sophomores who either started or played regularly.
"I think they had a lot of great experience playing significant roles for us all year," said Driscoll, adding that her young players stand to return next year with a bitter taste to shake the postseason defeat.
"I think we can really compete with anyone," said Driscoll, whose team earned points against some of the best teams in the FCIAC this year, including Wilton, Trumbull and Greenwich.
The Wreckers certainly competed with Newtown in what turned out to be the final match of the season, and the last in the career of the team's seniors, including defender Siri Andrews.
"I think we fought really hard until the end and I think that shows a lot about our character," said Andrews, a captain. "The luck just wasn't with us today."
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
No. 6 NEWTOWN 1, No. 27 STAPLES 0
STAPLES 0 0--0
NEWTOWN 1 0--1
Records: Staples 5-8-4; Newtown 15-2-3.
Goals: N--Brittany Tolla. Assists: N--Amy Martin. Goalies: S--Mary Bennewitz (5 saves); N--Caitlin Yakush (9).