Staples scores in OT to oust Wilton girls soccer team

For the second time in as many weeks, the Staples girls soccer team defeated Wilton in the playoffs.

Only this time, the loss ended the Warriors' season.

The Wreckers eliminated Wilton from the Class LL state tournament with a 1-0 overtime victory in a second-round game Thursday in Westport. The win followed Staples' 2-0 triumph over the Warriors in the recent FCIAC quarterfinals.

The only goal in Thursday's game came just 2:23 into the first 10-minute overtime period. Lydia Shaw split two Wilton defenders, leaving her one on one with Wilton goalie Cecily Freliech. Freliech came off the back line, but Shaw tucked a shot into the far corner for the 1-0 lead.

The Warriors were unable to get the equalizer in the remainder of the first overtime or the second 10-minute overtime.

Although the score was tied 0-0 at the end of regulation, the game got off to an intriguing start. Staples had two direct kicks outside the Wilton penalty area in the first five minutes, with the first attempt negated due to offsides and the second shot wide of the net.

The Wreckers caught a huge break when a hand ball in the Staples box was not called by the referee, preventing a possible Wilton penalty kick in the 3rd minute of the game.

Wilton’s Laine Parsons had a chance for a score in the 9th minute when the Staples defense misplayed the ball, but Parsons came away empty. Co-captain Hannah Maatallah had the next chance for the Warriors in the 17th minute on a direct kick just outside the 18-yard line. Maatallah’s kick was high and on net, but the Staples goalie got a hand on the ball to keep it out of the goal.

In the 19th minute Karen Brosko passed to Paisley Eagen near the top of the box. Eagen’s shot rang off the crossbar to keep the game scoreless.

With 15:34 left in the first half it was time for Freliech to shine in goal for the Warriors. Freliech punched a high shot that was bending just under the crossbar over the net. Freliech was solid in goal all afternoon in her final game between the posts  for Wilton.

Throughout the contest, Staples players seemed to be in the right place at the right time, anticipating where loose balls would land and beating the Warriors to the 50/50 balls. The Staples players were also stepping into the Wilton passing lanes, cutting off the Warriors' chances to advance up the field.

Action in the second half was just as intense as in the opening 40 minutes. In the 51st minute, a Staples corner kick did find its way into the net, but the goal was quickly waved off by the referee for interference with Freliech.

In the 57th minute Wilton defender Casey Tucker used a slide tackle to take the ball away from a rushing Staples player, on a play in which Tucker was the last-line defender, With 14 minutes left in regulation, Wilton’s midfield took a temporary hit when co-captain Makenna Pearsall went down with an injury. But Pearsall was able to return later in the period and finish the game.

"It’s very disappointing to have them knock us out of both the FCIAC and state playoffs,” said Maatallah. “We really had a good chance to win today. We practiced all week on a grass field and we had more chances to score in the game; we just didn’t finish our chances. They had one good chance and they scored."

“Last time we played them we didn’t have a good first half," said Wilton head coach John Salvatore. "But I can’t say that today; they left it all out on the field and I’m proud of the way my team played.”

"The team gave its all in the game, and when you lose a game when you give it your best it’s hard to swallow," added Salvatore. "Today’s game was a dog fight and our team brought the will and emotion to get a win."

The Warriors ended the season with a 10-3-6 record. Staples (12-2-4) will advance to face top-seed Glastonbury on Saturday in the Class LL quarterfinals.