FAIRFIELD >> In desperate need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Fairfield Ludlowe girls’ soccer team’s second half effort of more aggression, hustle and desire paid off in a big way Thursday evening at Tetreau/Davis Field.
Deadlocked in a scoreless game against rival Warde, sophomore Clare Mengel was able to break free midway through the second half and score to give the Falcons the eventual 1-0 victory.
“I mean, we’ve had an up and down season, so to have this win is unbelievable,” Mengel said.
The goal for Ludlowe (4-5-2) was a direct result of what the Falcons’ focus was during halftime, according to head coach Kate Dawson.
“We talked about being more aggressive,” Dawson said. “The 50-50 balls we were losing to Warde…hustle and effort needed to improve.”
The Falcons came out with a more physical style of play, challenging Warde on almost every ball and with 21:37 remaining in the game the hard work paid off.
Mengel was able to get down the field, made a move and found a way to get a shot off after a quick deflection and scramble with a few Warde defenders.
Mengel curled to the right and fired a high, arching shot that was just out of reach from Warde’s Mollie Kerrigan as it found the back of the net.
“That goal actually, Morgan Quinn, started that goal, she put a lot of pressure on their defensive line and Clare again, just persistent, got through and executed,” Dawson explained.
Warde had a myriad of opportunities early in the contest as the offense fired a barrage of shots at Ludlowe’s Caroline Serniak, but the junior keeper did a fantastic job of thwarting away any potential goals and keeping the Mustangs off the board.
“Serniak came up big for them, their defense played very well also,” Warde head coach Tom Cunningham said. “We got some chances…we got a few shots on goal…Serniak seemed to be everywhere we were shooting them.”
This was Serniak’s first full game back after being injured earlier in the season.
The loss for the Mustangs was their first of the season.
“It’s another game,” Cunningham said of what he told his team. “We’re at 8-1-1…I told the girls to keep their heads up, it’s one game.”
Warde is in a good position to finish high in the FCIAC standings as they are still in control of how they end the rest of the season as they host Ridgefield and currently undefeated St. Joseph next week.
For Ludlowe, Dawson said she hopes the win is a sign of good things to come in the final five regular season matches.
“Hopefully it’s turning the corner,” Dawson said. “They (Warde) are a great team, we knew it was going to be a tremendous challenge today. This is a big win for us, the girls deserve it. And they earned it today.”