St. Joseph girls lose to Warde, 3-2

The St. Joseph girls soccer team was highly motivated going into the third-seeded Cadets' Class LL state quarterfinal match with sixth-seeded Fairfield Warde at the Dalling Sports Complex in Trumbull on Sunday.

St. Joseph had been ousted from the FCIAC playoffs in the quarterfinal round, and Warde had defeated the Cadets 1-0 in the regular season.

The need grew after the Mustangs took a 2-0 lead on a pair of second half goals.

The Cadets drew even in a blink of the eye — or 51 seconds —but it was Warde that advanced on Lauren Tangney’s goal with five minutes remaining.

“I thought they played well and I thought we played well. Unfortunately, one of the teams has to lose, and that was us,” Cadet coach Jack Nogueria said. “But, don’t forget that today I started six freshman and no one else in the FCIAC does that.”

Warde (16-3-3) will play No. 10 Ridgefield (13-3-3) Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the semifinals at Newtown High. The Tigers defeated No. 2 Middletown, 2-0, in their quarterfinal. The Mustangs won the regular season match, 1-0.

Jenna Bike scored on a penalty kick for St. Joseph (13-3-1) to make it 2-1 and 51 seconds later Tory Bike took a free kick on her foot from Marissa Grasso and the freshman booted it cross net past Mollie Kerrigan with 13:30 left in the second half.

A quick sequence of passes by Warde saw Alexis Montani cross the ball to Tangney, who lofted the ball over Cadet keeper Veronica O’Rourke to snap the deadlock.

“It feels amazing,” Tangney said. “I knew we were only going to get one opportunity in the end. I had missed that one early (in the final minute of the first half). Time was winding down.”

FCIAC co-champions, the Mustangs had broken the scoreless match at 33:15 of the second half on a well-constructed attack up the far sideline.

The 70-yard advance began with Nell Carpenter — with Claire Pullen and Hannah Allen pushing past their markers — before Tangney left the ball for Larouche, whose riser from 25 yards out sailed under the crossbar.

Anna Glovin then headed home a corner from Larouche with 22:57 remaining to give Warde a 2-0 lead.

“That’s what we are capable of,” Cunningham said. “We know how to build passes to create. Anna Glovin got on the backside of that corner after Virginie Larouche had a wonderful strike to give us the lead.”

Kerrigan had four saves, including a stunning stop on Jenna Bike midway through the first half.

After a cross from Glovin to Allen at 20:30 of the half saw O’Rourke (four saves) make an outstanding save, St. Joseph countered quickly.

Jenna Bike got behind the defense and with the large crowd on its feet, Kerrigan blocked her blast.

“Mollie’s save as a huge momentum shift,” Cunningham said. It is what she is capable of and why she is the best keeper in the state.

“Jenna Bike is a lethal weapon with the ball. We played more zone and had Nicole Ciccarelli mark her. We marked up on both Jenna and Lindsay Savko.”

Nogueria said, “If I don’t win an FCIAC championship or a state championship, to me the season was a failure. Here at St. Joseph we look at a season as winning a championship.”