TRUMBULL >> Coming into Thursday’s contest against unbeaten St. Joseph on a two-game losing streak, the Staples girls’ soccer team needed a change.
And they got one. The Wreckers (7-2-2) rallied from a two-goal first half deficit, giving the Cadets unblemished record a good run as they battled to a 3-3 tie on a windy afternoon.
“This was big for our confidence,” Staples first year head coach Barry Beattie said.
Staples’ inspired second half play was due to a renewed focus and confidence in one another, knowing they could play with the defending state champions.
“The first half we looked like we were a little intimidated by their forward players,” Beattie said. “I said we have to stop being intimidated, stay high, squeeze the pressure high…and thankfully we turned a few in.”
Down 3-1 to start the second half, Staples took control from the get-go with a more intensified overall pressure. That paid off about 15 minutes in as senior Lauren Garcia booted one from about 25 yards out to make it 3-2.
“Yeah, you saw that against Ludlowe…she’s capable of firing,” said Beattie of Garcia, who finished the afternoon with one goal and two assists.
Nearly three minutes later, the Wreckers scored again off a corner that Lydia Shaw headed in to tie the game at three.
Both squads had their chances in the final 20 minutes of action, but strong defensive play and a few key saves on both ends resulted in the tie.
“I thought the wind, I thought it obviously their (Staples) focus and their drive; they willed themselves back into the game,” St. Joseph head coach Jack Nogueira said. “And we didn’t play particularly hard in the second half and that’s what happens.”
The second-half play by the Wreckers was welcomed after a first half that saw some lapses on the field as the Cadets high-powered offense took advantage.
St. Joes (10-0-2) scored 10 minutes from Leah Lewis and then Jenna Bike drilled one in for the quick 2-0 advantage.
Staples answered right back though, as Tia Zajec placed one in the far left corner to cut the lead in half.
But sophomore Lindsey Savko fired a strong shot past Staples’ Mary Bennewitz to make it 3-1.
The Wreckers almost made it a one-goal game before the half, but had their goal called back for being offside.
Bennewitz finished the game with six saves, while St. Joseph’s keeper Veronica O’Rourke had four saves.
Nogueira said after that his team will learn from a game like this.
“We got lackadaisical, we thought the game was over at 3-1, but not in the FCIAC, too many good teams, too many teams fight to the end,” he said. “If you’re going to learn anything, learn that you got to play 80 minutes and not 40.”