In its second game after coach Justin Ottavio deemed his Mustangs healthy for the first time all year just two days before, Fairfield Warde stayed in its "starting to click" mode on Wednesday afternoon in Fairfield by defeating Trinity Catholic 3-0 in an FCIAC boys soccer match. Familiarity can work wonders.
Co-captain Michael Foley, a striker who missed the Mustangs' first 10 matches, played his second game of 2013 and recorded his first goal early in the second half, which gave Warde a 2-0 lead. Peter Stymacks scored in the first half and Tommy Luckner's long shot closed out the scoring in the final eight minutes.
Warde, which qualified for the CIAC state tournament with a 2-0 win at Harding on Monday, improved to 6-3-3 overall and in the conference. The Crusaders dropped to 0-11-0 overall and in the FCIAC.
"We just possessed the ball exceptionally well today," Ottavio said. "We had the ball more than we usually do. All were healthy for the Harding game, and that's a positive. I think the dynamic has changed. Things are starting to click. We're building to tomorrow (Ludlowe at Warde), which is good.
"We gained one player (Foley) but lost one player," Ottavio said about the late-game elbow injury to captain and defender Jack Mappa, who sought medical attention immediately after the match. "I'm just upset about the injury to Jack."
There was little else about which to complain from the Warde perspective. Ottavio was able to make mass substitutions of younger players with 15 minutes remaining. The Mustangs did not relent after their insertion, with Luckner's 30-yard shot up high past Trinity Catholic goalkeeper Tom Gaudioso, the game's busiest player.
Gaudioso made 11 saves and collected many other balls to interrupt pressure by the Mustangs. His counterparts each made one save -- Steven Bartlett, who played the first half for Warde, and his backup, Mikey Kathein, who was in for the entire second half.
Gaudioso could not prevent Stymacks' goal, his third of the year, when the Mustangs' open attacker converted a nifty pass from Griffin Pugh in the 14th minute of the first half. Sharp passing in the 12th minutes of the second half resulted in the goal by Foley, who took Brendan King's accurate pass after dribbling upfield after he stole the ball.
"We made three individual mistakes," said Crusaders' coach Bob Pepi. "The ball was not cleared by a reliable central defender on the first goal; we dribbled way too much and the ball was stolen on the second goal; and our goalie did not react to the ball on the third goal -- he thought it was going over the (cross) bar but it didn't.
"In my mind it was a 0-0 game; we played well enough for it to have been a 0-0 game," Pepi said.
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Fairfield Warde 3, Trinity Catholic 0
TRINITY 0 0--0
WARDE 1 2--3
Records: TC--0-11-0, 0-11-0 FCIAC; FW--6-3-3, 6-3-3 FCIAC. Goals: W--Peter Stymacks, Michael Foley, Tommy Luckner. Assists: FW--Griffin Pugh, Brendan King. Goalies: TC--Ted Gaudioso (11 saves); FW--Steven Bartlett (1 save), Mikey Kathein (1 save). Shots: TC--5; FW--14.