GREENWICH — Fairfield Warde hadn’t scored a goal off a corner kick entering Monday’s game against girls FCIAC soccer foe Greenwich, so when the Mustangs tallied off a set piece in the 18th minute, it was a welcome sign.
The Mustangs’ goal off the corner kick also proved to be the game-winner.
Julia Marcus scored off a corner kick from Emma Shaughnessy, giving Warde a hard-fought 1-0 win over Greenwich at Cardinal Stadium. With the victory, the Mustangs upped their record to 5-3.
“It’s our first goal we scored off a corner this season, so they are executing what we’re working on in practice, which is great,” Warde coach Natalie Gallucci said of her squad’s tally. “We have been struggling to start off halves in a productive way, but today, I think we did.”
Warde junior goalie Claire Harper saved her squad, making 15 saves, the majority of which came during the second half.
“I thought we played well, we just couldn’t find the goal we needed unfortunately,” GHS coach Simon Rumbold said. “We really competed well, which has been the case all season.”
The opening half was pretty even, with Warde scoring the game’s lone goal. Shaughnessy sent a corner kick into the box, where there was plenty of traffic and Marcus snuck her shot past Cardinals senior goalie Clay Garrett from close in during the 18th minute.
“The ball was bouncing around the box and I got my foot on it and kicked it right in,” said Marcus, a junior centerback, who also sparked the Mustangs’ solid defensive effort. “Our team did a really good job of keeping things positive, even though sometimes things got a little bit stressful.”
The Cardinals began applying more pressure as the opening half progressed, but Harper stood tall in goal.
“The first half was a little rocky, we were making mistakes and our level of play dropped a little,” Gallucci said. “We were giving them opportunities toward the end of the first half, which was a little nerve-wracking, but we were able to hold it at 1-0.”
The second half began with Cardinals junior Carly O’Brien sending a cross into the box, that narrowly missed its mark, 20 seconds into the half. Warde had a chance, after it was awarded a corner kick in the 46th minute, but GHS sophomore Kelly Martynov cleared it out of harm’s way.
Seniors Jordan Moses and Claudia Caruso helped the Cards maintain possession for much of the second half, while Marcus and Shaughnessy led Warde’s defensive effort.
“We’re definitely moving the ball better than we have throughout the season,” Moses said. “We are getting it to the midfield and distributing and moving it from side to side. I think what we’re not doing is taking the chances we do have. The second half, we just missed the goal, or would get there a second too late. That’s what it came down to, they finished their chance and we didn’t finish ours.”
Freshman Caroline Marcus and junior Lena Gunn helped pace the Mustangs offensively. The victory was Warde’s second straight.
“The second half we made a change on our defense and that helped us tremendously,” Gallucci said.
Greenwich (2-7), which was coming off a 6-0 win against Norwalk, had a scoring opportunity in the closing seconds on a corner kick, but the visitors held on for the shutout win.
“I thought we dominated possession in the second half, in the final third, we just need to take a chance,” Rumbold said. “We did the right things, we just did not get one to go in.”
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Julia Marcus netted the game-winner and Harper was outstanding in goal for the Mustangs.
“We were just ahead by one goal, so we had to work hard to keep that lead,” Marcus said. We had a few tough games to start the season, now we are looking pretty good.”
“We really felt we had it, we were getting so many chances,” said Garrett, who made five saves. “The intensity was there. I’m still positive, we’re getting the ball down there and getting shots, which are good signs.”