FAIRFIELD -- At halftime, New Milford girls soccer coach Greg Lacava had one central thought for his team. After seeing Warde dominate play in the Green Wave's end of the field for the entire first half and somehow still be involved in a scoreless tie, Lacava begged his team to try and do one thing.

"Let's try and play in their end of the field, OK?" he said.

Easier said than done.

The sixth-seeded Mustangs opened the second half just like they did the first, attacking New Milford at every turn, and finally that aggressiveness paid off as Lauren Tangney scored in the 59th minute and Warde defeated the Green Wave 1-0 to earn a Sunday date in the Class LL quarterfinals against FCIAC rival and No. 3 seed St. Joseph at 1:30 p.m. in Trumbull.

"They played very well. They were very solid throughout the middle of the field," said Lacava, whos team ends with a 14-4-3 record and the SWC championship. "That's a great team there. They had a majority of the possession and they're very strong on the ball and we just couldn't answer today."

On Oct. 16, Warde defeated St. Joseph 1-0, snapping the Cadets' 36-game unbeaten streak (33-0-3). Anna Glovin scored in the first half for the Mustangs in a game where St. Joseph coach Jack Nogueria was red-carded and ejected in the second half for arguing an alleged missed hand-ball against the Mustangs. Also, St. Joseph star Jenna Bike, who had two goals and an assist in the Cadets' second-round win on Thursday, did not play in that game.

"I'm really excited (about playing St. Joseph again)," said Tangney. "This time I want to put them away so no one thought it was a fluke because they played with just 10 players the first time and now we want to beat them even more."

Warde (15-3-3) opened with an aggressive, controlling game plan and attacked New Milford from the opening kick. Virginie Larouche missed two solid scoring chances in the first half, as did Hannah Allen, Jenn Maldonado and Nell Carpenter, who put a shot just over the crossbar about 19 minutes into the second half.

But then, Meredith Nerreau controlled the ball down the left side, sent a perfect cross into the box where, finally, Tangney controlled the ball and put a shot past Green Wave goalkeeper Colleen Lynch to get Warde on the scoreboard.

"Mere (Nerreau) put a great cross in there and I was able to get control of the ball," Tangney said. "We've been practicing that all week and I knew when Meredith came down the line that she was going to put a good cross in the box and I just tried to get behind it."

From there it was just a matter of controlling the play, which the Mustangs did, until the final horn.

"We had some chances but they were few and far between," said Lacava. "They (Warde) were solid all the way up and down the field. That's a very good team."

A team that, according to Warde coach Tom Cunningham, is playing perhaps its best soccer of the season.

"We're playing very good soccer right now," he said. "With the FCIAC tournament and leading up into these last few games, even though they were only 1-0 (the Mustangs defeated Conard 1-0 in the CIAC opening round on Monday), we've been playing some good soccer."

And on Saturday, the Mustangs get a chance to show that their regular season win over the Cadets wasn't just the result of a lucky break.

"I can't wait," Cunningham said. "It'll be a great game. Two very good teams coming out of a very good conference. We're looking forward to it. There's been some talk about that regular season game ... we want to continue to do what we've been doing."

celsberry@ctpost.com http://Twitter@elsctpost


WARDE 0 1--1

Records: New Milford 14-4-3; Warde 15-3-3. Goals: W--Lauren Tangney; Assists: W--Meredith Nerreau; Goalies: W--Mollie Kerrigan (5 saves); NM -- Colleen Lynch (10); Shots: W--17; NM--5.