Fairfield Warde boys soccer eliminated by Brookfield
There is another part of the story, the part that doesn't appear in the statistics or in the box score. It lives in the hearts of the players who battled and lost and kept their pride, nonetheless.
The 4-0 final score of No. 21 Fairfield Warde's second round Class L boys soccer state tournament game with No. 5 Brookfield favored Brookfield. The 17-3-1 Bobcats, SWC champions and 3-1 victors over FCIAC champ Staples, on a 15-game unbeaten streak, had a comfortable 3-0 halftime lead, plenty to rest their starters with an eye to their quarterfinal game.
The record books will not show that all of their starters stayed in until the 63rd minute, when their lead swelled to 4-0. Most stayed in for all of the game.
"They knew that we could come back," said Warde captain Filippo Cenatiempo. "We had a lot of fight in us, and they knew that if they didn't keep those starters in, we were going to put some goals in."
The second 40 minutes of the game bore precious little resemblance to the first. The Mustangs began stringing together passes and owned the first serious scoring opportunity of the half, when Connor Gavey took possession in the center of the field and passed to Ryan Gavey on the right wing. Ryan lofted a line drive to Oliver DeBarros for a header into Bobcat goalie Matt Bonn's hands.
Cenatiempo followed with a pass to Ryan Gavey in the center of the field and Gavey relayed to defender Nick Imperioli, streaking up the right wing, but the Brookfield defense cut the Mustang thrust.
"Brookfield beat us last year and I think that was lingering in the back of our minds," said Mustang head coach Justin Ottavio. "Then in the second half, we came out and said, `We have nothing to lose.
It's 3-0, so let's just go out there and make them
respect us and be a little more assertive and aggressive,' and I think that's what they did."
Despite the Mustang offensive awakening, Brookfield did not slack off but Warde defense kept busy. Missing tri-captain Karl Rempe due to illness, Sal Siciliano and Ryan Gavey, Max Connor and Imperioli kept the Bobcats' shots largely distant, double-teaming and forcing long shots that senior captain Matt Freedman (13 saves) covered.
Freedman's performance kept the score as close as it was. Again and again, the gritty goalkeeper raced out to cut a Brookfield lead pass; with 10 minutes on the clock, Bobact striker AJ Stueck slipped past a Warde defender. Stueck's point-blank shot bounded off Freedman's hands and chest, adding to a statistic that would reflect saves, but not courage and intensity.
The Mustangs' second-half intensity never flagged; with two seconds left on the clock, Justin Correia zeroed in on the Brookfield goal, set on getting Warde on the scoreboard, but Bonn preserved the shutout.
"I think it's the hardest-working team I've ever been on," concluded Freedman. "Talent aside, soccer's all heart and this season in the FCIAC we really showed that, making states and making it to the second round, exactly where we got to last year."