Staples slams Manchester in Class LL first round
After sharing the FCIAC title with Fairfield Warde, the Staples girls soccer team wants a championship all to its own. The final opportunity for the Wreckers seniors comes in the form of the Class LL state tournament, a competition that Staples hadn't seen the second round of since 2011.
Three sophomores -- Ivy Prince, Charlotte Rossi and Lydia Shaw -- all netted goals to ensure that as the No. 8 Wreckers cruised to a 3-0 win over Manchester in the Class LL first round. Staples advances to Thursday's second round, when they will meet FCIAC rival Wilton at home.
The Wreckers dominated their Central Connecticut Conference opponent from start to finish, racking up 32 shot attempts to the Indians' three. Prince netted the opener with 14 minutes left in the first half with an accurate strike that beat Manchester goalie Abby Costa.
Staples took time adjusting to Manchester's physical style, but eventually used its pace to blistering effect.
"It's a tough down from Manchester," Staples coach Barry Beattie said. "I still thought the first half we weren't very good, we lowered ourselves a little. But a couple days off from last Wednesday's (FCIAC title match), it can happen. We got the result, which I'm happy with."
Manchester had a brief spell of possession early in the second half, including a through ball that Staples goalie Mary Bennewitz had to be alert to. Soon after, the Wreckers doubled their lead and effectively ended the game. Katherine Epstein, another sophomore, fired a pinpoint cross towards Rossi, who got a touch on the ball to divert it past Costa.
"We have a fast team and we're working on the forwards runs every day and we're doing well," Staples midfielder Chloe Rosenfield said.
Staples had chances to extend their lead throughout the second half. Rosenfield had a shot from outside the box that was tipped over the crossbar by Costa, and on the ensuing corner -- the first one of the game for either team -- Shaw headed a ball past Costa after she punched it straight into the air.
Lauren Garcia wrapped up the win in style with a free kick from distance that curled into the net.
And while the Wreckers are concerned primarily about the present, the future appears well in hand with contributions from underclassmen. By the time the game was finished, the field was littered with talented freshmen reserves.
"We want girls to be excited to play for Staples," Rosenfield said. "We have pride in our team. The girls in the beginning of the season I didn't even know if we all believed we could win. I think at the end of the season now we know we can do it."
The lead was comfortable enough for Beattie to substitute freely, including in goal. Freshman Anna Sivinski appeared in the second half and made a pair of saves in her first state tournament action.
"Anna's our replacement goalie, because our other two goalies are seniors" Beattie said. "I wanted her to get a big-game feel so she got more experience. When they didn't trouble (Benewitz) for 20 minutes in the second half I thought this was a good opportunity."