Their Cups runneth over
FAIRFIELD - To put it bluntly, the Swedish Cup is a crazy looking trophy. For the most part, it’s indescribable. Ugly, might be a better word.
But to watch the Ludlowe boys’ soccer team take the trophy from head coach Kevin O’Hara and hold it high, jumping around like they’d just won the World Cup, it doesn’t matter what it looks like. All that matters is that it will continue to reside in the Falcons’ trophy case.
Since 2005, Ludlowe has possessed the Swedish Cup, every year expect one and thanks to a 0-0 tie with Warde on a chilly Wednesday night at Tetreau-Davis Field, the Falcons took the cup home. Again.
“Oh, this is such a rivalry,” O’Hara said. “The kids get very excited about keeping the trophy. We’ve had it for a long time. We fight for that trophy, it’s kind of silly … it’s ugly, but it’s a tradition and they take great pride in keeping it.”
Heading into the game, Warde stood in fourth place in the FCIAC playoff standings with 28 points while Ludlowe held down the No. 6 spot with 25 points and with both sides adding a point to their total, will likely continue to hold position heading into the season’s final week.
“It was an exciting game … we’ve still got a couple of games left to try and get some points for the FCIAC’s,” O’Hara said. “To me, this is such a great experience for the kids, playing in this kind of atmosphere, in front of this kind of crowd, this is one of the best Warde teams that I’ve ever seen and for us to come here and get one point, yes, I’m very happy.”
So was Warde coach Justin Ottavio.
“I’m proud of what our guys did. They showed how dynamic they are.”
At the beginning of the season, the Mustangs were basically also-rans in the FCIAC. Of the preseason top eight teams, Warde wasn’t anywhere close. And after two games, Ottavio’s squad was 0-2.
“We weren’t in the (preseason) poll,” Ottavio said. “But that was OK with me because I prefer to be the underdog.”
Well, that underdog has been biting a lot of teams in the FCIAC of late. Wednesday’s tie pushed Warde’s record to 9-3-2 and has them undefeated (4-0-2) in its last six.
“We’ve shown that we can play with anyone and that we are a force to be reckoned with,” Ottavio said. “Heading into both of the postseason tournaments, we are going to establish a legacy for Warde soccer.”
With Daniel Villalba, Jake Berecz and Lucas Montero generating solid scoring chances, Warde controlled the possession, and the momentum over the initial 10-plus minutes but couldn’t get anything past Falcons’ keeper Nicholas Tenreiro. Then, it was Ludlowe’s turn to fire up the offensive pressure as Patrick Kilbride, Matthew Rullo, Zaid Atta and Nico Rullo tested Mustangs keeper Cameron Millington over the next 20 minutes, but each time, Millington was up to the task.
“He (Millington) made a ton (of saves), I’ve known him since he was a little boy,” O’Hara said of the Mustangs keeper. “His reflexes, that’s one of his strengths. We had a free kick and we one touched it toward the goal and he was right there, that’s a credit to him.”
“Millington has dealt with some trials and tribulations of late,” Ottavio said. “But he’s righted the ship, and he’s on course to fulfill his expectations and that’s to be a solid force in the back.”
The Falcons hit the road for its final two games of the season, Saturday at Norwalk and Monday at Wilton. Warde, meanwhile, will be home on Saturday, facing McMahon and on Monday against Ridgefield.
“We still need to work on some things on offense,” O’Hara said. “We have Norwalk and that’s no joke then Wilton. Then we’ll know where we are.”
LUDLOWE 3, WARDE 1
Last season, after the two teams played to a 1-1 tie, the newly created Fairfield United Cup sat by itself on the scorer’s table, neither side able to celebrate with the trophy.
This season, however, the Falcons celebrated with glory.
Ludlowe’s McKenna Forrest headed home the go-ahead goal with 18:39 to play and game MVP Georgia Hoey banged in an insurance tally with 4:05 left as Ludlowe knocked off Warde 3-1 Wednesday night at Tetreau-Davis Field and took the Fairfield United Cup home to the Falcons’ trophy case.
“It’s just outstanding,” Hoey said. “We’re going to be so happy for the rest of the season. This will probably keep us uplifted for who knows how long.”
Mathematically, Ludlowe (7-6-1) with 22 points and games remaining against Norwalk and Wilton, is still in FCIAC playoff contention. The best the Falcons’ could do would be to finish with 28 points, most likely giving them one of the final two spots - depending, of course what everyone else in the conference does over the weekend.
Warde (5-5-2), meanwhile remains at 17 points … for the moment. The Mustangs incredibly still have four games left over the next six days, today against Greenwich, Saturday at McMahon, Monday at Ridgefield and Tuesday versus Wilton. The best they could do would be 29 points. Would that be good enough? Coach Tom Cunningham would dearly like to find out.
“We want to go out tomorrow and get the win and get into states,” Cunningham said. “We need one more win for states … FCIAC’s are a long shot but we have to go play one game at a time.”
Ludlowe took the early lead, scoring just six minutes in as Kaylee Scala scored off an assist from Hoey to make it 1-0. The Mustangs answered some 10 minutes later as Jenna Wright scored to make it 1-1.
The game went back and forth until Paige O’Connell sent a cross into the box … right where Forrest was waiting to head it home and put the Falcons in front.
“Tactically, we didn’t do what we wanted to do on that play,” Cunningham said. “We left her open … we didn’t do what we set out to do on that play.”
And when Hoey powered home a goal from in front with just over four minutes to go, the Falcons were one step closer to qualifying for states.
“I had been playing wide the whole game and coming in, I knew I had to take the shot, I took it off my chest and I one-timed it and as soon as I hit it, I knew it was in,” Hoey said. “This was so important for states, we came out here knowing that we had to have one of the best games of our season. In-town rival and we had to make sure that we played as well as we could.”
And they did.
LUDLOWE 3, WARDE 1
LUDLOWE 1 2 -- 3
WARDE 1 0 -- 1
Records: Ludlowe (7-6-1); Warde (5-5-2)
Goals: L - Kaylee Scala, McKenna Forrest, Georgia Hoey; W - Jenna Wright
Assists: L - Hoey, Paige O’Connell
Shots: L - 8, W - 7
Saves: L - Maddie Herron (6); W - Maura Dougherty (5)
LUDLOWE 0, WARDE 0
LUDLOWE 0 0 -- 0
WARDE 0 0 -- 0
Records: Ludlowe (8-4-2), Warde (9-3-2)
Shots: Warde - 10, Ludlowe - 9
Saves: Warde - Cameron Millington (9), Ludlowe - Nicholas Tenreiro (10)