Girouard's goal, decides Ludlowe's win over Warde

Rebecca Girouard scored the game’s lone goal with 14:33 left to play, as Fairfield Ludlowe nicked Fairfield Warde, 1-0, in an FCIAC girls soccer matchup at Taft Field on Oct. 4.
Following a Falcons’ corner kick, Girouard found the ball in a swarm of players out in front and knocked it past Mustang keeper Katie Brennan.
“She’s a hard worker,” Ludlowe coach Kate Dawson said of Girouard, a senior. “She made a run from about the 30-yard line. It was a nice combination play with the midfielder to work the corner. She set the entire play up… There was a lot of chaos in front of the box. Luckily, we were able to get it into the net.”
Ludlowe improved to 5-4, reeling off its fifth straight victory following an 0-4 start. Warde lost for the first time this year, dropping to 7-1-1.
“We have the utmost respect for Warde, for coach Cunningham and the entire program,” Dawson said. “It feels great for the girls, they work hard every day in practice… We know what kind of team we have.”
After Girouard’s marker, the Mustangs nearly netted an equalizer with just over five minutes left to play.
Virginie Larouche, a junior, lined up a free kick from the 20-yard line after a Falcons’ foul.
Larouche belted the direct kick on net, but it slammed off the crossbar and back into play. A header off of the rebound then flashed wide of the net.
“We have girls who can score off of the those setpieces,” Warde coach Tom Cunningham said. “We had our chances and we took our chances.”
Ludlowe’s sophomore keeper Caroline Serniak sealed the Falcon triumph with a stellar two-handed save with 2:42 left.
“I have to compliment Caroline Serniak, she is stepping in for Suzanne Finnerty, who is injured,” Dawson said. “She’s fairly new to the position. She’s very composed.”
Serniak helped preserve a scoreless deadlock in the first half, turning back opportunities by Warde’s Sarah Reilly, Jenn Maldonado and Nell Carpenter.
Maldonado had a chance to put Warde on top with 11 minutes left in the half, dribbling in on the Falcon net. But, Ludlowe center back Annie McNamara halted the advance with a deft slide tackle.
“She has tremendous speed and composure. We have a lot of confidence when she is back there,” Dawson said.
With McNamara and Alex Wykoff marshaling the middle, the Falcons maintained their defensive intensity.
“They did a good job in the back, siphoning the final third of the field,” Cunningham said. “We had some chances, got behind him them, but we didn’t take high-percentage shots… The quality of the shot might not have been what we wanted.”
While Warde had the better of the play in the first half, Ludlowe regrouped at the half and created some chances early on in the second.
“We ebbed a little bit, we needed to settle, calm the nerves,” Dawson said.
“We hoped the second half would flow a little better and it did… I felt like in the first half Warde had a little bit more rhythm. They were definitely attacking more than we were… Once we play to feet, play composed soccer, we start to find our game.”
That composure showed on Girouard’s game-winning finish that knocked Warde from the ranks of the unbeatens.
Despite the rivalry-game defeat, the Mustangs showed the skills that propelled them to their perfect start.
“Both teams battled for eighty minutes,” Cunningham said. “It’s exactly what you’d expect from a rivalry game. I’m proud of our girls, they left it all on the field.”
Ludlowe followed with a 6-0 victory over Bridgeport Central on Oct. 8
The Falcons will visit Darien today at 4 p.m.
They host Westhill of Stamford, Monday at 4 p.m. and Trinity Catholic comes to Taft Field Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m.
Warde is on the road today at Ridgefield, visits St. Joseph on Monday at 4 p.m. in Trumbull, and returns home to play Trumbull High on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m.

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