WOODBRIDGE — Fairfield Ludlowe second-year coach Kate Dawson had a simple message for her team as the Falcons entered their CIAC Class LL first-round contest at Amity — go into the game like they were trailing by two goals.
It worked to perfection.
Playing with intensity that Amity didn’t match, No. 22 Fairfield Ludlowe upset No. 11 Amity, 2-1, at Amity High Monday afternoon. Fairfield Ludlowe will play the winner of Hamden/ Hall Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the second round of the tournament.
“We just said that in the states, it is all or nothing,” Dawson said after her team improved to 9-7-1. “We wanted to go into the game like we were down two goals. We wanted to play with that intensity. We played composed, controlled soccer.”
Lindsay Zilling scored both goals for the Falcons, who trailed early but quickly came back.
After Amity goalkeeper Zoie Reed denied Krissy Bradley with a diving save 12 minutes, 30 seconds into the game, the Spartans used a free kick by Cassie Giza to take a 1-0 lead with 17:36 gone by in the game.
Giza’s free kick sailed toward the Ludlowe goal and was headed in by the Falcons for an own goal and a 1-0 Amity lead.
The Spartans didn’t hold that lead.
Just 1:12 later, Ludlowe took over the game. Annie McNamara sent a perfect pass to Zilling who broke in on Reed and took a soft touch to the lower corner, knotting the game at 1.
“Lindsay is an incredible player,” Dawson said of Zilling. “She had two big goals for us.”
The remainder of the first half was all Fairfield Ludlowe as constant pressure had Amity on its heels in the final 20 minutes of the half. Alex Wykoff shot over the net from 20 yards out with 15:29 left and Caroline Rooney was denied by Reed from 20 yards out with 14:50 to go.
Reed made a great save off a blast from Bradley when she punched away a shot from 20 yards out with 10:15 left in the half. Amity’s lone opportunity in the final minutes of the opening half came when Giza sent a ball in front, but Amity was unable to score off a scramble in front.
“They took their chances and we did not,” Amity coach Owen Quigley said after his team finished 11-5-3. “We let down. In the overall balance, they deserved to win. They did not let us do what we do. It was not one of our best games.”
The Falcons came out strong to start the second half, controlling play once again. Reed made big saves early and denied Bradley to keep the game even.
Amity’s Giza and Alexa Gibbs were stopped within a span of 3:20 by Ludlowe goalkeeper Caroline Serniak, allowing Zilling to take over.
Bradley took the initial shot that was stopped by Reed, but the rebound went right to Zilling who knocked an easy shot past Reed for the eventual winner with 21:07 left.
“This is a huge win for us,” Zilling said. “Both goals were definitely a team effort.”
After Reed kept her team within one goal, the Spartans had four golden opportunities to even the game in the final 18 minutes. Giza was denied by Serniak and Jacquelyn Smith was stopped with a beautiful leg save by Serniak with 14:50 left.
“Caroline Serniak is a young goalkeeper,” Dawson said. “She was excellent in goal today.”
Giza had a golden opportunity but shot high over an open net from 15 yards out, before Alissa Beedle shot wide from an angle 15 yards out with 3 minutes left in the game.
“We had four glorious opportunities in the final 18 minutes and did not score,” Quigley said. “We did not finish. That has been our problem in the second half of the season. We did so in the first half, but were unable to do so in the second half of the season.”
Reed finished with 20 saves for Amity. Serniak made 12 saves for the Falcons.