The Fairfield Ludlowe girls soccer team had been on a roll, defeating two excellent programs, Ridgefield and Trumbull, in consecutive games. A win over St. Joseph on Tuesday would cement a fifth seed for the Falcons` first-ever appearance in the FCIAC tournament.

But after a 3-0 St. Joseph victory, the Falcons have to wait for other teams` results to discover their standing in Saturday`s tournament opener.

"The first 15 minutes was a ball game and then St. Joe`s came alive," said Falcon head coach Tony Samuelian, "and once they start coming alive, it`s either we`re going to come back and be active or not, and we just kind of got tentatively started, kicking balls rather than possessing balls."

In contrast, the Cadets played excellent possession soccer, stringing together passes and keeping the Ludlowe defense busy. A detached observer would not be surprised that for the game, St. Joseph`s amassed seven corner kicks to Ludlowe`s one.

The Falcons had an opportunity to score late in the first half when Chrissy Lozier was tripped a bit less than 40 yards from the Cadet goal, but the St. Joe defense rejected Rachel Baumann`s kick. A minute later a Cadet shot slammed off the Ludlowe crossbar, inches from a 1-0 Cadet lead and St. Joe`s kept the pressure on.

"We didn`t generate any offense to speak of," said Samuelian. "We`d get a little bit, but we didn`t really generate the momentum that we needed. If you don`t score, you don`t win."

In the final minutes of the first half, Ludlowe had two good but brief forays into Cadet territory. Lozier saw Gabby Rudolph on a run down the left wing and lofted a fine crossing pass just behind the Falcon, but Rudolph was called offside.

Thirty seconds before the halftime buzzer, Mary Kamovitch fired a 40-yarder into the arms of Cadet goaltender Nina Scarpetti (five saves).

St. Joseph`s started early in the second half, with a long lead pass to a sprinting striker, smothered by Blakeley Zecher (seven saves). Lozier answered with a fine lead pass to Catherine Rooney, but the Cadet defense intervened.

Then lightning struck as St. Joseph`s all-American midfielder Jessica Schloth broke past a Ludlowe defender, her eye on the Falcon goal. The ball rolled well ahead of her, but her legs and the defender`s got tangled--inside the penalty box--and she was awarded a penalty shot.

"The kick`s hard to defend and you`ve got an all-American taking it," said Samuelian, "so you`re not going to bet your house that any keeper in the world is going to stop it."

Schloth`s shot reached the lower right corner just beyond Zecher`s reach, and the score was 1-0, with just over 32 minutes left to play.

The Cadets made good use of the final half hour, scoring twice more and rising to the occasion when the Falcons threatened.

"It just didn`t seem like a good warmup, the day just didn`t seem to lend itself," Samuelian summarized. "And give St. Joe`s a lot of credit. They just kept coming. They never stopped."

As they waited for other FCIAC games to determine their FCIAC tournament situation, the Falcons prepared to face Platt Tech in Thursday`s Senior Night game, a matchup that has implications for their state tournament seeding.