Two second half goals sink Staples against Ludlowe
Published 6:19 pm, Friday, October 10, 2014
Thanks to a fast start that has it near the top of the FCIAC with the games winding down, the Fairfield Ludlowe boys soccer team has become one of the marked teams that opponents raise their game for.
It's a status that coach Kevin O'Hara admitted young team is dealing with, but learning to thrive under as the postseason rapidly approaches.
Matthew Doyle and Niklas Stahle scored second half goals to lift the Falcons to a 2-1 win over visiting Staples on Friday afternoon at Taft Field. The win moved the Falcons (9-0-3) into a tie for the top spot in the FCIAC, along with Norwalk.
"They haven't even thought about being undefeated," O'Hara said. "They're not talking about it; this is the FCIACs so teams don't get to do that very often. We're trying to take it one game at a time."
The Wreckers (4-4-2) took the lead nine minutes into the second half. Michael Reid lofted a free kick from the halfway line that bounced through the box and eventually landed at the feet of Daniel Perez Elorza, who finished from in close.
The goal shook the Falcons from their nest and their response was swift. Less than three minutes after the Staples goal, lively winger Michael McArdle collected a ball from outside and whipped in a perfect cross that was headed in by Doyle.
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"Staples does a very good job pressuring the ball and they can shift their defense quickly," O'Hara said. "We wanted to switch the ball quickly and get our backs more involved coming forward and we were able to do that in second half."
Ludlowe took the lead six minutes later when a ball was played through midfield to Stahle. Stahle eluded the final defender and beat Wreckers goalie Ziggy Hallgarten on the one-on-one opportunity.
"We played with them right until the end," Staples coach Dan Woog said. "We played an undefeated team right to the end and knocked the ball very nicely."
The Falcons controlled the play for the majority of the final 20 minutes and threatened to extend their lead. The Wreckers held firm and almost snatched a point when Reid had a shot from inside the box that was saved by Ludlowe goalie Fred Meagher.
"I know Michael, he's a great player and usually buries those," Meagher said. "I just used my instincts."
The teams were restricted to chances from corner kicks and long throws in the first half as the two midfields battled for territory.
"Teams are up for us when they are playing here," O'Hara said. "Hats off to Staples, they came out flying in the first half, pressed us really didn't allowed us to get in our flow. When they got their goal our boys got fired up and sometimes we needed that."
The defeat damages the Wreckers' FCIAC playoff hopes with six games remaining.
"Every game is important," Woog said. "Every game, every point is important."