St. Joseph tops Fairfield Ludlowe, sets up showdown of unbeatens
FAIRFIELD — The three-time defending Class L girls soccer winner got rolling Tuesday night at Taft Field. The defending FCIAC champion had its offense clicking.
And that comes at quite a time for St. Joseph.
Jessica Mazo scored two goals and two others had a goal and an assist apiece to lead the Cadets to a 5-0 win at Fairfield Ludlowe.
“We came together pretty well. We really executed and came out with energy,” Mazo said. “We came out to play.”
The Cadets were in control and generated early scoring chances, burying three in just over nine minutes in the first half to seize the night.
“I just thought we played, offensively, one of our better games all year,” Cadets coach Jack Nogueira said, “how we created, how we moved the ball and how we finished.”
Ridgefield, No. 1 in the Class LL-L state poll, is scheduled to visit St. Joseph, ranked third behind Staples, on Thursday at 4 p.m.
After Ridgefield’s scoreless tie Tuesday against Staples, both the Tigers and Cadets are 10-0-1; Staples, scheduled to be St. Joseph’s regular-season finale on Oct. 22 in Westport, is 9-0-3.
St. Joseph goes into Thursday with five consecutive shutouts, seven in all. The Tigers haven’t allowed a goal all season.
“It feels good that we moved the ball well,” Nogueira said. “I hope it kind of carries on to Thursday. It’s high school soccer. That may or may not happen.”
The Falcons (5-5-1) made Grace Hickey make four saves, but the Cadets’ offense took charge.
“We knew we needed to have really good defensive shape,” Ludlowe coach Peter Nikac said. “We needed to play tight against them.
“Not so much to shut Jess down, because that’s not going to happen, quite honestly, but trying to maybe give her a few extra bad passes, give her a few extra bad touches, put a little more pressure onto her and not let her beat us, and unfortunately, we didn’t do a good job of that.”
St. Joseph was obviously one of the eight teams in FCIAC playoff position going into Thursday. The other seven were the Cadets’ last seven opponents, beginning with Friday’s win over Trumbull.
Nogueira admitted he wouldn’t mind an easy one mixed in toward the end, but they’ve got to be ready.
Mazo figures they are.
“Especially toward this part of the season, we’re prepared to play them,” she said. “We know we have to be up for every game.”
Two things that stood out on the Ludlowe side: The Falcons didn’t quit, and their keeper kept it from being a more lopsided game.
Senior Maddie Herron denied Mazo off a nice move on the left side early. She made a great leaping save on Maddie Fried about four minutes before the Cadets opened the scoring. She stopped Mazo off a Fried setup moments after the third goal.
“She made some quality saves. She’s a general back there,” Nikac said. “She’s been really doing well. We don’t have the players that St. Joe’s or Staples has in front of you, so she’s going to get a few more shots on goal, so she looks that much better.
“Couple of mistakes positioning-wise on the shots,” he added, “but when Jess shoots from 30 yards out, I’m not sure I can save it.”
ST. JOSEPH 5, FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 0
ST. JOSEPH3 2—5
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE0 0—0
Records: St. Joseph 10-0-1, 10-0-1 FCIAC; Fairfield Ludlowe 5-5-1, 5-5-1. Goals: SJ—Jessica Mazo 2, Maddie Fried, Caroline Sheehan, Nina Pizzicarola. Assists: SJ—Mazo, Fried, Pizzicarola. Goalies: SJ—Grace Hickey (4 saves); FL—Maddie Herron (7). Shots: SJ—22; FL—9.