WESTPORT — A small part of it was redemption. But more importantly, it was another chance to chase greatness.
The Staples High girls soccer team took its first step forward in the Class LL tournament Monday by nipping a stubborn Warde squad 2-1 in first-round action at Wakeman Field.
No. 5 seed Staples (14-1-3 overall) had been upset 2-0 in double overtime by No. 8 seed Darien in the recent FCIAC playoff quarterfinals.
“Our girls were disappointed after the Darien game, our first loss in 17 games,” Staples coach Barry Beattie said. “The girls learned a lesson the hardest way possible. Darien deserved that win. We had to put the enjoyment back into playing soccer. They had to put the smiles back on their faces.”
TWO BEAUTIFUL GOALS
Staples will continue its journey through the FCIAC once again. The Wreckers will host No. 12 seed New Canaan in Wednesday’s Class LL second round, most likely at 2 p.m. FCIAC runner-up New Canaan (14-5-1 overall) ousted No. 21 seed Conard 5-0 at home Monday.
Staples struck twice in the second half to vanquish Warde.
Warde had its first corner kick and best offensive opportunity to that point. Staples struck quickly in transition.
Ava Simunovic passed to Kathryn Ialeggio, who scored with 32:10 left for a 1-0 lead.
With the score deadlocked 1-1, Staples junior Reese Sutter created space down the middle and unleashed a bullet from 25 yards out that skimmed in under the crossbar to make it 2-1 with 9:57 remaining.
“The defense gave me space. I saw the goalie was off the goal line. So I looked to kick it high near the crossbar and as near to the upper right corner as I could,” Sutter said. “Coming off the loss to Darien, when Warde tied it 1-1 it was frustrating. During the week before the state tournament, we thought hard about the Darien loss. We finally reached a point where we stopped beating ourselves up. We had to make soccer fun again and lift our spirits.”
Staples senior goalie Zoe Barnett had three saves, all in the second half. Although Warde forged the 1-1 tie with 17:14 left, coach Beattie maintained his faith in the Wreckers.
“I knew if we kept thinking tactically we’d be OK,” Beattie said. “If we played the right way, the winning goal would come.”
WARDE FOUGHT TO FINAL HORN
No. 28 seed Warde finished its season at 5-8-4. It was the last Mustang contest for seniors Clare Corcoran, Kaitlyn Walsh, Janey Boldrighini, Caroline Brown, Avery Oracheff, Caroline Aufiero and Caleigh Walklet.
Sophomore goalie Claire Harper registered 20 saves. Sophomore Bridget King knocked home a rebound at the right post off Corcoran’s original shot for the 1-1 tie.
“Our defense did a tremendous job against a great Staples offense. Our girls matched their intensity,” Warde coach Tom Cunningham said. “We pushed forward on our corner kick and Staples scored on a great counter for their first goal. The second goal was a great shot by Sutter. Given time and space, she’s a scorer.Read Full Article
“From Day 1 to today our seniors were outstanding in their influence and leadership to the entire team,” Cunningham added. “They always promoted positive feelings.”
STAPLES 2, WARDE 1
WARDE 0 1—1
STAPLES 0 2—2
Records: Warde 5-8-4, Staples 14-1-3. Goals: W—Bridget King 66:46. S—Kathryn Ialeggio 47:50; Reese Sutter 70:03. Assists: W—Clare Corcoran. S—Ava Simunovic. Goalies: W—Claire Harper (20 saves). S—Zoe Barnett (3 saves).