St. Joseph girls blank Wilton in FCIAC semis
WILTON — During the regular season, Wilton was one of only two teams to record a point against perennial powerhouse St. Joseph. In the rematch, however, the Cadets got back to their winning ways.
Quick strikes by Jessica Mazo and Alexis Mason in Tuesday’s FCIAC girls soccer semifinal made the difference in the top-seeded Cadets’ 3-0 victory over fifth-seeded Wilton at Lilly Field.
“We talked all week about how the first 20 minutes were the most important minutes. Let’s see if we can score an early goal,” St. Joseph coach Jack Nogueira said. “I really told them that we need to come out hard and ready to play.”
The Cadets followed through on their coach’s wishes. In the 12th minute, Mazo pounced on a giveaway and hammered a shot past Covadonga Perez Pelaez for a 1-0 lead. Only 46 seconds later, Alexis Mason scored to double the Cadets’ early advantage.
“(Wilton defender Zoe Lash) was man-marking me the whole time, so to get the ball freely was really great,” Mazo said. “I just shot it and hoped for the best.”
Elevated into the starting lineup after junior Taylor Floyd went down with a season-ending knee injury, Perez Pelaez dove to her right but came up empty on Mazo’s shot from just outside the top of the box.
The Warriors (12-5-1) had plenty of time to answer, but Mason’s goal just moments later only compounded their problems. Even with an early two-goal lead, the Cadets maintained their pressure on attack and finished with a commanding 12-3 edge in shots.
“The first half, the first 10 minutes, we were just too flat,” Wilton coach Renato Topali said. “We let in two easy goals. I think that was the difference.”
Thanks to the strong start, the Cadets booked a spot in Thursday’s final against either Ridgefield or Staples in Norwalk. They will have something to prove, too, after losing to Ridgefield in the championship game a year ago.
“We kind of felt as if we had something taken away from us last year,” said Mazo, a sophomore. “We were looking to get back because not a lot of people believed in us this year after losing a lot of our players.”
Despite graduating a strong class highlighted by National High School Player of the Year Jenna Bike, the Cadets (16-1-1) haven’t missed a beat to this point. Only Darien (2-0 loss) and Wilton (0-0 draw) came away with points against them in the regular season.
“They’ve got a lot of quality players — no doubt about it,” Topali said. “They’re a quality team.”
The Warriors were no match for St. Joseph this time around. Lindsay Savko’s goal with 7:26 remaining put to rest whatever hopes they might have had for a comeback.
“Tonight, we were the better team,” Nogueira said.
ST. JOSEPH 3, WILTON 0
WILTON 0 0—0
ST. JOSEPH 2 1—3
Records: Wilton 12-5-1; St. Joseph 16-1-1. Scoring: SJ — Jessica Mazo 1g, Alexis Mason 1g, Lindsey Savko 1g. Goalies: W — Covadonga Perez Pelaez (6 saves); SJ — Veronica O’Rourke (3). Shots: W — 3; SJ — 12.