FAIRFIELD - Two years ago, it was coach Samantha Dileo, who worked to get the Warde field hockey program to buy into her system. The results were mixed. Last year, it was co-coaches Paige Moore and Deirdre Hynes that tried to do the same thing. Again, the results were mixed.

Now, it’s Victoria Strauser’s turn - the Mustangs third coach in three seasons - to try and get the players to believe in themselves and believe in the system.

And on Tuesday night against the town rival in perhaps the biggest game this season, the Mustangs’ belief paid off with a huge win.

Elizabeth Falterer scored off a penalty corner with 6:43 left in regulation to break a scoreless tie and a minute later, Allison Milicia added an insurance tally as Warde solidified its position on the eighth and final FCIAC playoff spot with a 2-0 win over Ludlowe at Teterau-Davis Field.

“It was an amazing game, the girls gave 100 percent, and that’s all I asked of them,” Strauser said. “This was probably the best game I’ve seen them play this year. They really wanted the win and they went out and did a great job.”

As far as playoff positioning goes, this was probably the biggest game in a long time for both Ludlowe and Warde.

The Mustangs, now 6-5-1-0 in FCIAC play, stood in eighth place in the conference standings, one point ahead of the Falcons (4-4-1-1), who were breathing down their necks in ninth, looking to climb over their town rivals with a win Monday and squeeze themselves into a potential postseason spot.

But recently, the Falcons have been caught in an offensive slump. This marked the third straight game that Ludlowe has failed to score. And as everyone knows, you can’t win if you can’t score.

“It seems like the girls are always looking for that perfect shot,” co-head coach Karen Seltenerich said. “We really work on body positioning and sometimes, we get frustrated … telling them, ‘take the shot, take the shot,’ and then, they freeze. It’s hard. They get flustered in the circle and look to pass instead of just shooting.”

After losing career 80-goal scorer Lauren Beccaria, Seltenerich and coach Joe Skarupa redesigned the offense to try and get more players involved. It’s been a struggle as the Falcons have only scored 14 times in 13 games.

“We have better formations, we have more bodies in the circle, it’s just that last hesitation, they can’t seem to be the one to finish,” Seltenerich said. “We work on it but we’re a young team and we don’t have that person that can really finish and be hungry in there. We’re still trying to find that.”

Early on, Warde went through a lot of growing pains, but recently, the Mustangs have found something, winning four straight to reach the .500 mark for the season at 6-6-1-1.

“When I came in, they were so welcoming, they worked really hard,” Strauser said. “We worked together, they offered their knowledge, I offered mine and together, we’re making it work.”

After a scoreless first half, the game continued to go back and forth until Falterer found herself open in the box off that penalty corner play from Milicia and she beat Ludlowe keeper Grace Ghee with just under seven minutes left.

Taking a pass from Abbey Kellerman a minute later, Milicia buried a shot past Ghee to make it 2-0.

“We have a lot of speed on the front line and I’m really just letting them do their thing,” Strauser said. “The front line plays really well together, and our midfield and defense are amazing.”


LUDLOWE 0 0 -- 0

WARDE 0 2 -- 2

Records: Ludlowe (4-6-2-1, 4-5-1-1 FCIAC); Warde (6-6-1-0; 6-5-1-0 FCIAC)

Goals: W - Elizabeth Falterer, Allison Milicia

Assists: W - Milicia, Abbey Kellerman

Goalies: W - Sophia Guerrera; L - Grace Ghee