DANBURY — The Danbury High School girls’ soccer team was able to survive an opening surge from an aggressive Staples squad looking for an upset Monday afternoon. Led by keeper Rebecca Gartner, the Hatters kept themselves in the game and then took the advantage offensively.
A late first-half goal from Sara DaSilva and then teammate Taylor Moore scored in the final forty minutes to give eighth-seeded Danbury (11-2-6) the 2-0 Class LL first-round State Tournament victory.
With the win, the Hatters advance to the second round on Wednesday where they will host New Milford.
“First off, Staples came ready to play today,” Danbury head coach Jessica Halas said. “The first 15, 20 minutes they had us on our heels. And luckily we were able to survive that period and then transition. You know it’s really been a challenge for us scoring, not so much defending all year. Keeping them zero-zero and then to get that goal was big.”
For the 24th-seeded Wreckers, Monday was indicative of how a majority of the season has gone. The Wreckers had their chances to score but couldn’t put the ball in the net. Staples out-shot Danbury 11-8.
“It was definitely frustrating, I think we created chances the whole game,” Staples head coach Heather Driscoll said. “That’s kind of has been our season, not being able to finish a little bit, but I thought we played really well. We were dangerous in the attack and did pretty well defending.”
It appeared as the half would end scoreless but Danbury’s DaSilva took a well-placed pass from Brittini Silva and fired it past Staples’ Mary Bennewitz for the 1-0 edge.
Staples nearly answered back off a shot from Charlotte Rossi but Gartner scooped it up.
The Wreckers had another opportunity 10 minutes into the second half as Lauren Garcia placed a corner to Gea Mitas who headed it right on target but Gartner made the grab and prevented the goal.
“This team (Staples), I knew they were a good, solid team,” Gartner said. “Their forwards are strong. And I respect them. They’re a good young team.”
Danbury added the insurance goal late in the second half as Moore scored off a pass from Breanna Prata.
Staples (8-9-0) finished the season not the way they wanted but showed signs of improvements under second-year coach Driscoll.
“I thought it was a good year,” Driscoll said. “We’re really young; four freshmen started and played nearly every minute. Our seniors gave great leadership all around. I thought overall they worked really hard; certainly an improvement from our play and style from last year.”