Greenwich held Fairfield Warde off the scoreboard for as long as it could during Thursday’s FCIAC girls soccer matchup, but with the amount of pressure the Mustangs consistently applied, the goals eventually came for the visitors.
After a scoreless first half, Fairfield Warde tallied twice in the second half and that was enough for it to post its second consecutive win.
Goals from juniors Caroline Marcus and Sydney Mieczkowski lifted the Mustangs to a 2-0 triumph against host Greenwich at Cardinal Stadium. With the win, Warde upped its mark to 2-1-2. The Cardinals’ record stands at 2-3, heading into Monday’s road game against Trumbull.
Greenwich’s solid defensive effort was its bright spot for the game, which saw the teams enter halftime in a 0-0 tie.
“They were all over us in the first half,” Greenwich coach Simon Rumbold said. “We defended pretty well. We didn’t connect at all, with our passes, but we were under pressure a lot, so the fact that we held out for so long, giving up so little – that showed that we were strong defensively.”
Cardinals junior goalie Isabella Gega had a stellar game, making nine saves, several of which came off Warde corner kicks. The Mustangs had the possession advantage, especially in the opening half.
“I feel like we weren’t playing at our max,” Gega said. “In practice, we’ve always been pushing ourselves, pushing each other to be the best players we can be. So we just have to improve our mentality in games like this. We have to push ourselves to the next level in games and hopefully, we can beat one of these high-level teams.”
Besides their goals, Marcus and Mieczkowski gave the Mustangs a boost throughout with their aggressive play. The visitors went into the second half aiming to capitalize on some scoring chances.
“In the first half we maintained possession for the majority of the half and really the main focus at halftime was getting composed in the final third and making sure that last pass before the finish was a little more composed and we connected on it,” Warde coach Kim Rasmussen said.
Gega made a save off a Warde corner kick in the opening minutes of the matchup, then rose up and gathered the ball off another corner kick in the 12th minute. Warde had a third set piece, drawing a corner kick with 7:35 to go in the first half, but the early-season FCIAC game remained scoreless.
Sophomores Julia Acosta and Emma Abbazia and senior Kelly Martyanov helped create scoring opportunities for Greenwich, which entered the game off a 4-2 road victory against Norwalk.
Junior Ali Pennella helped paced Greenwich’s midfield play, while senior co-captain Skyler Scavo and junior Caroline Lawrence anchored the squad’s defensive effort.
“We need to work harder and we know what we are capable of, because we are a great team, but we didn’t show it today,” Scavo said. “So we just need to work on being consistent. They’re a good team, at the end of the day, we could have tied, but Warde played well.”
Said Rumbold: “Defensively, we stuck to our shape and we defended the corners pretty well. Gega in goal made a couple of good saves and the back three did well on the defensive side.”
The Mustangs scored the only goal they needed in the 54th minute. Pushing the ball up the field, junior Samantha Matturro delivered a crossing pass to Mieczkowski, who while charging to the goal, got a good touch on the ball and booted a shot inside the left post, making it 1-0.
“That’s been a big focus of our practices, getting on the end of crosses and I’m really pleased with the way we were able to do that and execute that in the game,” Rasmussen said of her team’s first goal.
The Cards nearly scored the equalizer with 22:45 left in the second half, but sophomore goalie Audrey Montero stepped up and blocked a shot from close range off the foot of Abbazia on breakaway, keeping the score 1-0.
Warde tallied in transition in the 67th minute, with Marcus knocking home a shot off a rebound that found her foot, giving her squad a 2-0 advantage. The speedy Abbazia broke free again and found herself in another 1-vs.-1 situation with Montero with 7:25 left to play in the second half, but Montero once again made the save.
“Credit that save all to her,” Rasmussen said of her netminder. “She did a great job of coming out, reading the play and being there at the right time to make a save.”
Said Rumbold: “We had two breakaways to the goalie, so the positive sign is she (Abbazia) is getting to those positions, which is impressive.”
Greenwich exited the game knowing they improved their performance level in the second half.
“Toward the end, when we started passing to feet and communicating with each other, we were seeing results and having chances of scoring,” Cardinals senior co-captain/midfielder Sofia DeVito said. “Multiple times, one of our players got multiple break throughs and that stemmed rom our passes.”
Sophomore Theresa Coyne, Matturro, Marcus and Mieczkowski made their presence felt for Warde throughout the game.
“Warde is a very organized team,” Gega said. “They played balls through, they played balls through our gaps in the center midfield. They are a very strong team.”
Greenwich will look to get back on the winning track when they visit Trumbull on Monday for a 5:30 p.m. game.
“I think that we just need more practices and more time on the ball to get comfortable, so everyone will be more comfortable with positioning,” Scavo noted.
“Communication is the most important thing, so just getting in that right mentality of communicating with each other during the game is important,” DeVito added.