Staples blanks Wilton in reguar-season finale
Even though it was the final game of the regular season, both the Wilton and Staples girls soccer teams had a lot on the line Tuesday afternoon.
For the host Warriors, a win would lock up the fourth seed and a home game in the first round of the FCIAC playoffs. For visiting Staples, a victory would mean an undefeated regular season and the top overall seed for the conference playoffs.
In the end, it was the Wreckers who walked off the field having met their objectives.
Staples shut out Wilton, 3-0, to finish the regular season with a 14-0-2 record and secure the top seed for the playoffs, which begin with quarterfinal games Friday.
The Wreckers will host eighth-seed Trumbull, while Wilton (the fifth seed) will play at fourth-seed New Canaan. New Canaan defeated the Warriors, 2-0, during the regular season.
Staples also went undefeated (13-0-3) during the regular season last year but failed to win any titles.
“I’m well aware this is the second year in a row that we didn’t lose a game in the regular season, but [we] had no hardware to show for it [last season],” said Staples head coach Barry Beattie. “We need to carry our regular-season intensity into the postseason. We play at a high-performance level all season long; we just need to maintain that level in the playoffs. The team knows it’s one-and-done, so we need to push ourselves to achieve better post-season results.”
The Wreckers didn’t let the light drizzle affect their play Tuesday, as they were a step faster to the ball than Wilton, got solid play from their back line, and held the Warriors’ offense in check.
Staples scored goals in the fourth and 15th minutes to put Wilton on its heels and take some fight out of the Warriors’ game.
Marlo von der Ahe opened the scoring, taking a high shot that Wilton goalie Erynn Floyd attempted to punch over the goal. The ball struck the crossbar and and went into the net, putting Staples ahead 1-0.
Gabriela Gonzalez added the second goal, knocking the ball off the far post and into the Wilton net followng a direct kick from Charlotte Barnes.
Down 2-0, Wilton came out of the halftime break with more focus and finally put some shots on goal. The Warriors played several diagonal long balls to Shelby Dejana, but the Staples defense was there to close down scoring chances.
Staples ended the scoring with a goal in the 61st minute as Von der Ahe converted on an assist from Lys Goldman.
One bright spot for the Warriors was play of Floyd, who made numerous saves.
“Erynn was tested all game long and made some great saves today to kept us in the game,” said Wilton head coach Renato Topali, whose “Staples is a quality team and deserve to be the top seed in the conference playoffs. They are the best team we faced all year and they excel in all parts of their play.
“We allowed them to score on set plays; we weren’t focused for 80 minutes today,” added Topali. “The early score was a killer, and we didn’t win our one-v-one matchups. These are all things we need to perform better at in the playoffs if we want to move on.”