WESTPORT >> Fairfield Warde head field hockey coach Jodie Shannon knew her team needed a good performance Tuesday evening against unbeaten Staples. The game marked the beginning of a tough opening slate of their schedule.
The Mustangs responded to the challenge with a huge 2-1 victory in overtime, as senior Elizabeth Gallucci scored the game-winning goal at Staples Stadium.
“We’ve been doing really well in the FCIAC, but we know we still have some of the traditional powerhouses ahead of us and this starts our stretch, so we knew that this week and the beginning of next week was going to be our hard part,” Shannon said. “(It’s) nice to start off strong.”
The Mustangs (6-1) were able to battle back from a 1-0 halftime deficit, as Fia Mancini scored with 10:47 left in the second half off a pass from Darci Byington to tie the game and eventually force extra time.
In overtime, Staples nearly scored a few minutes in, including a few good attempts from Jenna McNicholas, but was stopped by goalie Katie Stepsis, who kept her team’s chances alive.
With less than five minutes to play, Warde’s Sarah Adams connected with a running Mancini who dribbled down the top right side and slid a perfectly placed pass to Gallucci over on the left who scored the game-winner with 4:17 remaining.
“Well, we’ve definitely been practicing in practice, definitely a team effort,” Gallucci said. “The pass up to the top was amazing. It was definitely an amazing feeling.”
The Wreckers (5-1) defense did a nice job early on, as they withstood a barrage of offensive chances from Warde. Goalie Jodie Baris finished the evening with seven saves.
Staples got on the board first as Jamie Tanzer scored off a pass from Jordan Ragland 23:11 into the contest to take a 1-0 lead.
Shannon said being down a goal at the half wasn’t a big deal for her team.
“We don’t really get deflated with the goals this year, which is nice to see,” Shannon said. “But we knew that even letting one in with Staples was going to be a tough one; they’re having a great year, they’re a strong program, they have some great athletes on their team. Coming back from that was going to be a challenge and I’m glad that we had the chance to fight back.”
Stepsis finished the game with eight saves.
Warde will now host New Canaan on Thursday at 4 p.m., and then travel to one-loss Wilton next Tuesday, and host rival Ludlowe next Thursday.