WESTPORT — Exactly a year ago the Staples girls’ soccer team was still in search of their first win.
Flash forward to 2013 and Thursday’s FCIAC game against a tough Fairfield Ludlowe squad. The Wreckers displayed growth, maturity and a stingy defense in a 1-0 victory to improve to 3-0 on the young season.
“It’s the team,” Staples’ second-year head coach Heather Driscoll said of her squad’s fast start to the season. “The returners are just being really good role models and working really hard and really setting the tempo. And then the new kids coming in and stepping up to the challenge; everyone all around.”
In a mostly defensive battle, the Staples offense struck just five minutes in as freshman Lydia Shaw took a nicely placed pass from Tia Zajec and dribbled up field. She was able to use her speed to blow by her opponent and found the back of the net as the Falcons’ goalie committed early.
That was all the scoring the Wreckers did and apparently needed. The Staples defense, led by senior co-captain Meghan Lonergan and junior co-captain Megan Root took over and held a determined and physical Ludlowe offense at bay. Junior keeper Mary Bennewitz made multiple saves including an impressive tip off a Falcon free kick.
“Huge,” Driscol said of Bennewitz’s play. “She was really smart anytime we played the ball back to her feet which for us is really important. It buy us time, let’s us get a little more composed on the field. She kept us in the game.”
A season ago Bennewitz was making her first start in the net for Staples. With a year of experience she said she feels more comfortable and composed in critical game-time situations.
“It’s a lot better,” she said. “I mean last year I was new to the team and everything.”
Ludlowe (0-4) created a handful of scoring chances throughout the match, but never could convert. For second-year head coach Kate Dawson this was the team’s second straight contest they failed to score.
“We had a lot of opportunities, we pressed a lot and the girls had a lot of opportunities to put the ball in the net,” Dawson said. “We had a lot of pressure on their keeper, she made some excellent saves. We (just) have to find a way to score.”
Ludlowe, which was playing without starting keeper Suzanne Finnerty, who is out with an injury, relied upon two new faces in the net. In the first half Megan O’Hara stopped a penalty kick from Staples’ Root to keep her team in the game.
Ludlowe will look to rebound Saturday afternoon as they host Ridgefield at 4 p.m.
Staples will face Bridgeport Central today at 3:30 p.m. at home. Driscoll said while her team missed some chances to add to the score, she knows it’s still early in the season.
“We can be a lot more dangerous but that will come as the season goes on,” she said. “It’s really early, but (being 3-0) it’s great for the kids; a lot more confidence out there.”