It had all come so easy for the Fairfield Warde boys soccer team.

All of the chances were finished. All of the shots were stopped. All of the opportunities against were calmly blocked away.

Even in the FCIAC playoffs it seemed to be Warde's destiny to go on a tour of redemption. The Mustangs had dispatched Ridgefield in overtime and made quick work of New Canaan on way to a rematch with Staples.

Warde had lost to each of the three teams in the regular season, and was hoping that Staples, for the FCIAC championship no less, would be the final destination on this tour.

So there Warde sat, in a 1-1 game with the two-time defending champion Wreckers with 30 minutes left in regulation.

And then the Mustangs ran out of magic.

It all started with such an innocuous play. Jake Krosse's harmless ball ate up goalkeeper Dylan Strachan. Strachan then rebounded to make an unbelievable save on Court Lake. But Brendan Lesch was there to beat a lunging Mustangs goalkeeper.

"I must've missed that ball by less than an inch," Strachan said.

Did Warde wilt? No.

"As soon as Staples scored that goal, we could've packed it in," Warde coach Justin Ottavio said. "We deal with adversity very well."

It just didn't get the break that it had gotten for the last eight games.

It seemed like all of the finishing that the Mustangs had done in eight games was just a spot off on Wednesday night. Connor Gavey's strike was blasted just over the crossbar with six and a half minutes left, Sal Siciliano's header sailed over the net with five and a half minutes to go. Connor's brother Ryan hit the crossbar with three minutes left.

Last week, each one of those shots likely go in. But on Wednesday, they all didn't.

"It's a different feeling not seeing those go in the net," Strachan said. "On our streak we were scoring and things were flowing. Everything that was done was done."

"The goal eluded us," Ottavio said.

I guess that is soccer. One day a break falls your way, or you don't execute properly, and you lose. Maybe it was Staples being in the proper position as well. I mean, the Wreckers have three-peated for a reason.

The Mustangs 2-1 loss to Staples in the FCIAC championship game bookended their season with the 2-1 loss they suffered on opening day. Both times Staples found ways to win, yet both times Staples' coach Dan Woog was impressed with the Mustangs as well.

"This was by far the toughest," Woog told our reporter, Mike Levitt.

Warde need not wallow for too long though, the Mustangs hangover only can last until Monday when the Class L playoffs start. Warde will be the highest seeded FCIAC team in that tournament, and have the confidence in the body of work to make a run through the tournament.

Maybe all the breaks will fall Warde's way in that tournament and the Mustangs won't end up going home empty handed. It'd be nice if the most historic season in Warde history rewarded it with something more than a division title.

Football Picks

A 2-0 week was predicated on the fact that both teams lost. I give both teams credit, they fought valiantly, but in the end made too many mistakes. This week should be interesting.

Stamford (4-3) at Warde (3-4), Friday, Tetreau/Davis Field, 7 p.m.- Stamford has been the surprise team of the FCIAC this year as the Black Knights have beaten upstarts McMahon and stunned undefeated Trumbull. I'm still waiting for Warde to get over the hump and beat a good team. I tend to think tonight is the night, but I could be wrong. Pick: Warde 24, Stamford 21.

Ludlowe (0-7) at Sheehan (1-6), Friday, Riccitelli Field, 7 p.m.- This should be a battle. The Titans have lost six straight and have lost a lot of their team according to a source. Ludlowe is coming off of a competitive game with Staples, and if it doesn't commit eight turnovers in this game has a shot to win. I think the Falcons do. Pick: Ludlowe 14, Sheehan 12.

Last week: 2-0. Year-to-Date: 12-3.