Momentum had switched heading into Thursday night's cross-town boys soccer rivalry when Fairfield Ludlowe visited Tetreau/Davis Field at 7 p.m. to play host Fairfield Warde.
Just a week ago, the Falcons were 7-1-0 and riding a seven-game winning streak, and the Mustangs were 4-3-3. But this week, Ludlowe lost games to Wilton and Brien McMahon to enter the showdown at 7-3-0, and Warde beat Harding and Trinity Catholic to show up at 6-3-3. Each was riding a two-game streak but in opposite directions.
"I'd like to think the boys will bounce back," said Kevin O'Hara, Ludlowe's coach.
Last year the teams tied 3-3, the fifth straight season of a draw between the two. The series stands at 6-0-2 in favor of the Falcons in the eight previous matches in which O'Hara has coached against the Mustangs' Justin Ottavio.
"I think there's too much emphasis on it," coach Ottavio said. "Yes, I'd like to win the game."
Ottavio instead looked at the rivalry match as a chance for Warde to continue its good play and to help prepare the team for the post-season tournaments.
"I enjoy it," Ottavio said. "But I also feel empathy for the players. There's a lot of pressure on them, there always is, but there's more in this game. It's very emotional for either side win, lose or draw."
O'Hara, who has taught and coached some of the Warde players in previous years, says he wishes the Mustangs well. "I tell them I root for them 364 days a year but for a day they know we're going to come at them," said O'Hara, who lists Ottavio and his assistant, Chris Lovelett, as two of his friends within the coaching fraternity.
"It's a lot of fun," O'Hara said. "Anything can happen. Emotions and energy are high. The atmosphere can take over the game. There are some years when we've played well and they've squeaked out a tie, and there are years when they've played well and we've squeaked out a tie."