Fairfield Ludlowe boys soccer stuns Staples
Fairfield Ludlowe boys soccer head coach Kevin O'Hara readily admitted he was not playing to beat Staples in the final 20 minutes of the teams' meeting on Tuesday.
In fact, O'Hara would have been satisfied with a nil-nil draw.
Yet Tobias Gimand still found a way to earn the Falcons an historic -- and essential -- victory.
Gimand potted Ludlowe's second shot in the 78th minute and the Falcons stunned Staples 1-0 at Taft Field.
"This game is a funny game," O'Hara said. "Our game-plan was to get a point tonight and when the opportunity arose ... we were able to capitalize."
Ludlowe goalkeeper Ryan Arrigo stopped 10 shots as the Falcons improved to 5-6-2.
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"I did not expect us to win," Arrigo said. "But the way we played through that entire game was great."
Ludlowe beat Staples for the first time in its history and now needs just one point in its final three games -- against Norwalk, Harding and Greenwich -- to qualify for the state tournament.
"We know we have a tough schedule against us," O'Hara said.
The Wreckers outshot Ludlowe 17-2, yet could not find the shot to beat Arrigo. Wreckers goalkeeper James Hickock stopped one shot as Staples fell to 8-4-1 -- losing for the first time in its grueling, two-week stretch.
"We're playing our seventh game in 11 days," Staples coach Dan Woog said. "It's tough. It's physically demanding."
With less than 90 seconds remaining -- and Ludlowe trying to drain the clock to earn the all-important draw -- Falcons' junior Eric Winjum boxed out two Wreckers defenders, winning the ball to Manuel Barral-Arteta.
Barral-Arteta shuffled a pass to Gimand in the middle, and the senior captain did not miss, beating Hickock with a low shot, putting the Falcons on the board with just 1:05 to play.
"It's awesome," Gimand said. "Staples has always been the top-dog and we've never come close to them. It's a great feeling."
The Wreckers had the game's only chances for the first 78 minutes. Andrew Travers twice had first-half shots stopped by Arrigo. Arrigo's best save came when he thwarted Andrew Puchala's point-blank effort in the 48th minute.
"I have got to stay concentrated the whole game," Arrigo said. "The only way you can make saves like that is to stay concentrated."
Ludlowe's defense also flummoxed the Wreckers when Billy Donatuti's goal-line save kept Gregory Shikowitz's effort in the 59th minute. Arrigo made the initial punch on a try by Staples' Harry Birch, but the ball fell to Shikowitz who blasted a try that met Donatuti's foot and sailed away.
"That's soccer. We had plenty of chances," Woog said. "They had their opportunity and made the most of it. Hats off to them."