St. Joseph tops Warde in FCIAC semifinal
WILTON — Trying to beat St. Joseph with a complete and healthy roster is tough enough. Trying to do it without four starters is just about impossible.
But Warde faced that task Wednesday night in the FCIAC girls’ soccer semifinals. And although the Mustangs battled from start to finish, the Cadets had too much experience, too much speed and too much athleticism in what turned into a 5-1 victory at Kristine Lilly Field.
Warde was missing four starters from its beginning of the season lineup — senior midfielder Lauren Tangney (knee), junior defender Jane Boldrighini (foot), senior midfielder Teresa Andres (calf) and senior defender Cara Bebey (ankle).
“It’s not about the girls that were missing, it’s about the girls that were out on the field,” Mustangs coach Tom Cunningham said. “They played with heart and they played with great intensity and I’m proud of the girls that were out there tonight.”
St. Joseph, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, advances into the FCIAC championship against top-seeded Staples — a 1-0 winner over No. 4 Ridgefield — on Friday at 7 p.m. at Ludlowe’s Taft Field.
“We’re back in the finals and that’s something I’m very proud of,” Cadets coach Jack Nogueira said. “This is now four of the last five years. We’ve only won it once, but it’s something that I’m very proud of. It means a lot to me and a lot to the team.”
Jessica Mazo scored two goals and added an assist to lead St. Joseph (13-1-4) while Tory Bike, Maddie Fried and Nina Pizzicarola also scored for the Cadets. Amanda Motkin scored the lone goal for Warde (13-4-1), which now awaits CIAC play.
“We did some really good things, but they took advantage of some opportunities,” Cunningham said. “And good teams are going to do that to you. I’m proud of our effort. We’ve always had a ‘team’ mentality and the girls followed that again tonight, no matter who was out on the field. They played for one another.”
It only took the Cadets seven minutes to beat Warde keeper Caleigh Walklet and take the lead as Mazo was creating in the middle of the field and the ball found its way to Pizzicarola, whose shot from the top of the box found the upper right corner to put St. Joseph in front.
But two minutes later, Motkin, racing down the left side, beat Cadets keeper Veronica O’Rourke with a blast that deflected in off the crossbar to tie matters at 1-1.
From there however, it was all St. Joseph as Mazo headed home a wonderful cross from Alexis Mason off a corner kick in the 23rd minute to put the Cadets up 2-1. Mazo then redirected home a shot from Fried just 40 seconds into the second half to make it 3-1.
“We wanted to make sure that we directed this game,” Mazo said. “That goal was big for us because it allowed us to control the game. I just wanted to make sure that we were in control.”
“(Jess) has a knack of doing those kind of things, making the right pass or scoring a goal at the right opportunity,” Nogueira said. “And she’s been doing that all year along. Once we got that (second) one, I thought we got more comfortable.”
Goals from Bike and Fried iced the Cadets’ semifinal victory.
“We played well today. Things clicked for us,” Nogueira said. “I think playing on the big field helped us a lot. It gave us more space to play the feet, more room to make better passes to work with each other. Obviously, Maddie (Fried) up top was fantastic and Jess is Jess … she put her stamp on the game.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Cadets forward Jessica Mazo. The junior scored two goals and added an assist to power the Cadets into the FCIAC tournament finals for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
“I’ve enjoyed this entire season with this group, the passion that they have and how much they care about one another.” — Warde coach Tom Cunningham