As the postseason beckons in high school girls soccer, games tend to tighten up because established teams are preparing for tournaments or teams out of the hunt are trying to end the season on a positive note. Everyone is playing for something.
Brien McMahon entered its Senior Night celebration Tuesday in Norwalk with one win and one tie in 2013, but the Senators provided more than enough competition for the visiting Falcons, who were chasing the final berth in the FCIAC quarterfinals that begin on Saturday.
McMahon, dressed in pink, scored first but Ludlowe got the final two goals for a 2-1 FCIAC Central Division victory before the Kicking for A Cure recognition of breast cancer awarenss month at Jack Casagrande Field. Ludlowe, which had lost three of five matches after its stirring cross-town win over Fairfield Warde on Oct. 4, improved to records of 8-7-0 overall and in the conference. McMahon, which had scored seven goals all season, dropped to 1-13-1 overall and in the FCIAC.
Ali Carvalho's 25-yard shot not even six minutes into the match gave McMahon a 1-0 lead and its eighth goal of the year. Alex Wykoff's direct kick in the final nine minutes of the first half was knocked in by Krissy Bradley before it was cleared to knot the score at 1-1. Bradley struck for the lone goal of the second half midway through on a rocket of a shot into the upper, far corner that eluded busy McMahon goalkeeper Gabby Ganino.
The Falcons had already qualified for the CIAC Class LL tournament that starts on Nov. 2, but they stood in 10th place in the FCIAC's overall standings that allow eight teams into the conference field. Ludlowe coach Kate Dawson knew her team would need help to gain entrance into the FCIACs before playing the Senators, but her focus was equally aimed at building momentum for the state playoffs.
"Our focus has been on finishing (plays for goals)," Dawson said. "It's been a problem for us. I was looking at the game both ways -- FCIACs and states. We focus on one game at a time."
Falcons' senior Lindsay Zilling, one of their most productive forwards, injured her right knee in the 11th minute of the second half and did not return. That signaled the continuation of the recent pattern of injuries. Sophomore goalie Caroline Serniak was hurt in the previous match, a 5-1 loss at New Canaan on Oct. 18. Also struck by the injury bug have been sophomore midfielder Tatum Lareau and junior midfielder Casey Bradley.
"All are impact players (for us) for sure," Dawson said. "We want to be getting the girls who are stepping in to be confident on the field and to work with their teammates to create offensive opportunities. We want them to play with that same intensity and aggression."
Ganino made 14 saves for McMahon, maintaining her strong play for the season, said McMahon coach Richard Hickson. When Ganino wasn't frustrating Ludlowe's attack, senior captains Julianne Arcamone and Morgan Gedney were clogging up the Falcons' forays into the center of McMahon's defense. Junior Karen Garcia-Gares was effective in the midfield for the Senators as well.
"We kept our shape from the offense back to the defense," Hickson said. "We made it difficult for them."
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Fairfield Ludlowe 2, Brien McMahon 1
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 1 1--2
BRIEN MCMAHON 1 0--1
Records: Fairfield Ludlowe 8-7-0, 8-7-0 FCIAC; McMahon 1-13-1, 1-13-1 FCIAC. Goals: FL--Alex Wykoff, Krissy Bradley; M--Ali Carvalho. Assists: FL--Krissy Bradley. Goalies: FL--Megan O'Hara (3 saves); M--Sabrina Nichols (0 saves), Gabby Ganino (14 saves). Shots: FL--21; M--4.