TRUMBULL >> Friday afternoon battling a harsh wind on a bitter cold November day at Dalling Athletic Complex, the Fairfield Ludlowe girls’ soccer team’s storybook postseason run came to an abrupt halt.
The No. 22 seeded Falcons faced an aggressive and talented St. Joseph squad that used its speed and footwork to overpower the Falcons and claim a 3-1 victory and advance to the Class LL state semifinals.
The No. 3 seeded Cadets (20-0-1) will now face No. 2 Glastonbury (17-0-1) on Monday or Tuesday for a spot in the title game.
After defeating No. 11 Amity and then knocking off No. 6 Hall in an exhilarating match that went to penalty kicks, the Falcons luck ran out against the FCIAC champion Cadets that haven’t dropped a game all year.
“Obviously we respected them because of what they did the last two games,” St. Joes head coach Jack Nogueria said. “But to tell you the truth, we don’t look at game plans, we just try to do what we do best and it’s worked for us all year.”
What has worked well for the Cadets all season has been technical play, quickness and finesse. After a slow start for both teams, St. Joes Marissa Grasso got the team on board with 19:39 left in the first half. The Cadets added to the lead right before the half as Jenna Bike made a perfectly placed pass to teammate Sam Grasso on the run, who booted it home for the 2-0 advantage.
“Going into the wind was tough,” Ludlowe head coach Kate Dawson said. “We really struggled finding our rhythm and contending with the wind. (They were) just a quicker opponent. They were definitely more aggressive in the first half, so it kind of took us a while to settle in and find our game and find our confidence.”
The Falcons (10-8-1) did a nice job in the final 40 minutes led by senior Krissy Bradley on the offensive attack, but did not get a lot of opportunities to score.
“Yeah we had a few chances, I was hoping we could get a some more corner kicks, some more free kicks,” Dawson said. “Just unfortunately (we) couldn’t get close enough.”
The Cadets put the game out of reach 13 minutes into the second half as Lindsey Savko scored off a corner from Marissa Grasso.
Ludlowe was able to get a goal with time winding down, as senior Sophie Butcher capitalized off a play that left the net untended. Ludlowe’s Caroline Serniak finished with eight saves.
While the Cinderella run ended for the Falcons, it was a highlight worthy season for Ludlowe that that had its best finish since 2010.
“It was a thrill,” Dawson said. “We knew coming in it was going to be a great challenge, they (St. Joes) are just from top to bottom, a really solid, polished team. We knew it was going to take a lot, and the girls gave their best effort. I’m disappointed, I obviously wanted a different outcome but I couldn’t ask for more from my players, especially my seniors.”