Fairfield Warde girls soccer advances to first FCIAC final with win over Wilton
Fairfield Warde senior forward Emily Pullen has scored big goal after big goal throughout the Mustangs 2011 season.
So it only fits that the captain would be the one to send the Mustangs to their first FCIAC final.
Pullen's goal in the 29th minute was the only score of the contest as No. 7 Warde upset No. 6 Wilton, 1-0 on Thursday in the FCIAC semifinals at Testa Field.
"We've played some magical soccer," Warde coach Tom Cunningham said. "It's just been tremendous."
The Mustangs defeated a better seeded team-- who they had lost to earlier in the year-- 1-0 for the second straight day. The Mustangs beat second-seeded New Canaan in Wednesday's quarterfinal. Warde advances to Saturday's FCIAC Final against either Greenwich or St. Joseph on 2 p.m. at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.
"We're proud of ourselves," sophomore goalkeeper Kate Brennen said. "No one thought we should be in this game.
"I don't think we came out with the same intensity that we should be coming out with every game," Wilton coach Megan Rodriguez said. "Now we just need to look to states."
But Wilton was not without chances, especially in the second half. The Warriors peppered nine shots at the Warde cage, including Tegan Helms' shot in the 44th minute off the crossbar. Brennen stopped the subsequent shot, one of her four saves in the game.
"We just can't get it in the net some games," Rodriguez said.
Brennen came up big in the 70th minute when she punched Kayla O'Brien's goal chance over the net.
"I just gave 100 percent effort to keep it out of our net," Brennen said.
The Mustangs scored the game's lone goal with 11 minutes left in the half when Julia Delaney's free kick was blocked by a Warrior defender. The ball hit a Warde player's head, then fell to Pullen where she left-footed her 18th goal of the season by Reda to put the Mustangs up 1-0.
"Emily's been doing that all year for us," Cunningham said. "It was a nice finish for her."
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"It's was really exciting to get that goal," Pullen said.
Warde went into its traditional shell after that, and Cunningham credited Brennen and the Mustangs' defense with holding the lead.
"Our girls did a tremendous job of shutting down their opportunities," he said. "And Brennen came up huge for us."
Warde will represent Fairfield in the FCIAC girls soccer final for the first time since Fairfield High School earned a co-championship in 2002.
"We didn't come this far to lose," Pullen said.