Staples vs. Fairfield Ludlowe

For the past few years, the Wreckers have enjoyed playing at Taft Field. It’s nice turf — and the site of several solid regular season and post-season wins.

Though tonight marked the 6th game in 9 days for Staples — and the 2nd in 2 — the blue-and-whites again found their rhythm at Fairfield Ludlowe’s stadium. With Sam Koenig filling in nicely for injured defender Yousef Shahin, and Noah Bender getting a start up top, they moved the ball well all over the field.

Harry Birch ran the show at midfield, winning tackles and distributing wisely to both sides.

But the 1st half ended scoreless. At the break, Staples talked about playing more to feet, and with more urgency in the box.

They did both in the 2nd half. Greg Shikowitz was his usual indefatigable self, initiating powerful attacks after winning hard tackles. Jordan McNair ruled the left side, and Diego Alanis covered plenty of territory.

But Staples squandered several excellent opportunities, including several close in. They came off set pieces, corner kicks and slots into the box.

As time wore down, the Falcons seemed content with a draw. They urged each other to “take it slow” on goal kicks and throw-ins. They’d been limited to a few counterattacks all evening, and late in the match had been outshot 19-2.

Suddenly, though — against the run of play — captain Tobias Gimand struck. The play developed down Ludlowe’s left side, and the senior opportunistically shot low and hard.

The score — with just 1:05 to play — stunned both sides.

The Wreckers — who had controlled virtually the entire match — suddenly realized what a cruel game soccer can be. Falcon fans poured out of the stands, celebrating the improbable end.

“This was a tough one,” admitted Staples head coach Dan Woog. “But the FCIAC is a brutal league. Almost every match is a war. We’ve been through some great battles the past few weeks.

“Big props to Ludlowe — they found a way to win it. And I’m extremely proud of our guys. They’ve been through tons of ups and downs this year. Tonight they played some very good soccer, and they fought all the way to the end.

“I told them: This is what Staples soccer is about. We’re a big game for every team we play. That makes the defeats very tough to take — and the victories that much sweeter. I love what this team has done so far. I know they’ll be ready for Westhill on Thursday.” FINAL SCORE: Fairfield Ludlowe 1, Staples 0. SEASON RECORD: 8-4-1.

QUICK KICKS: In addition to the 19-3 edge in shots, Staples had 3 corner kicks to the Falcons’ 0….

The junior varsity tied Fairfield Ludlowe 0-0. They played a very strong 1st half, and were less dominant after the break. The jayvees are now 5-2-2…

The freshmen fell behind 1-0 to Fairfield Ludlowe, then rallied to win 2-1 on a pair of Graham Gudis strikes. One was a breakaway; the other, a header off a set piece. Brenden Price made some nice saves in goal, and Kenji Goto cleared a ball off the line. Grant Sirlin looked strong at midfield. Coach Chris O’Dell’s frosh are now 8-0-0.

Joe Greenwald and Andrew Puchala crash the goal at Fairfield Ludlowe. (Photo/Carl McNair)

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