— Mary Albl (@MaryAlbl) October 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD >> At the end of almost every game, Fairfield Ludlowe’s Fred Meagher loses his voice.
Thursday evening at Taft Field, the senior goalie had a very good reason to sound horse, as his vocal cords and more were put to the test in the FCIAC quarterfinals against rival Warde.
Meagher came up huge in the net swatting, diving and saving every ball that came his way, as he helped guide the Falcons to a 1-0 boys soccer victory.
“You can see why he’s got to be an all-FCIAC goal keeper,” Ludlowe head coach Kevin O’Hara said. “He made two, possibly three game-changing saving plays out of nowhere. He’s a top-notch goalie.”
The win for the defending conference champs advances them to the FCIAC semifinals on Monday where they will play top seeded Danbury.
Against Warde, a team they played to a scoreless draw in the regular season, experience and senior leadership came through in the clutch.
Down 1-0, and with about seven minutes to play, Warde appeared to have the equalizer as Luis Cari sent one through a jumble of players to the bottom corner, but Meagher somehow was able to make a diving save to persevere the lead.
“Honestly, I don’t remember it that well,” Meagher said of his save. “I saw the shot, I knew I had to get to it…instincts took over.”
Added senior Mason Jennings: “That last save Fred made…Luis, great player, I thought that was going in, and when I saw Fred save it, I was relieved.”
After a scoreless first 40 minutes, the Falcons came out pressing and finally got one past Warde’s Matt Skelton, who was equally impressive in the net, finishing with 10 saves.
About seven minutes into the second half, Alec Williams was able to make his way down the left side of the field and got it to Jennings who slipped it in for the 1-0 advantage.
“It took us a while to get going, but I felt at the end of the first half we were attacking well,” Jennings said. “I knew if we kept pushing we’d finally get one.”
For Warde, which put together an outstanding regular season record of 9-3-4, the chances were there throughout the evening, but it was combination of Meagher and just coming up short on some opportunities.
“We created opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize,” Warde head coach Justin Ottavio said. “And that’s what the game comes down to. I give them a lot of credit for making those opportunities, but in the end, Freddie came up with huge saves.”
Warde will now get ready for the Class LL state tournament.
“It hurts to lose to the town rival but we’ve dealt with adversity all year and we’ll get past it and do what we can in the state tournament,” Ottavio said.
The victory for Ludlowe was also O’Hara’s 100th career win.