Six years a long time to earn decision

It took six years for it to happen, but someone finally broke through in the boys soccer series between the cross-town rivals from Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe.
After five straight ties dating back to 2007, Ludlowe found itself on the winning side of the score as junior Matt Galle headed in a cross from sophomore Brendan Layne in the 19th minute of the second half and the Falcons held on for a 1-0 victory at Tetreau-Davis field on Oct. 11.
After a first half that saw both teams fail to connect on their few scoring opportunities, it looked like it was going to be another deadlock in a series that had not seen a victory since Ludlowe posted a 3-0 win back in 2007.
That’s when the most unlikeliest of heroes emerged. Ludlowe’s decisive goal started on a corner kick on the ride side. Layne, playing in place of injured sophomore Richie Bellucci, gathered the ball on the left side and lofted a long pass back into the box.
Galle, one of the smallest players on the field, somehow managed to get his head on the ball, deflecting it past Warde goalkeeper Mike Lerman (six saves) with a shot that seemed as if it was in slow motion.
“It wasn’t the prettiest goal,” Ludlowe head coach Kevin O’Hara said. “But that’s what we try to tell the kids, just try to crash the box and pressure and knock things loose. It was actually our smallest guy who put it on goal. So sometimes you get lucky.”
Galle, who has scored all of three goals this season, wasn’t quite sure how to explain it himself.
“I don’t know, it all happened so fast,” Galle said. “I was in the middle of the box and it was like tunnel vision. No one was around me and I just saw the ball come down. It landed on my head and I was able to put it away.”
Besides bragging rights, the game also carried huge FCIAC playoff implications.
Each team is right in the hunt for one of the conference’s eight playoff spots. Ludlowe (8-3 overall), which had lost two straight against Wilton and McMahon, is now sitting in great position, while Warde (6-3-3) might have a fight on its hands.
“To get our eighth win and to get back on the winning side after two straight losses is big without a doubt,” O’Hara said. “I like to think of this as just another game, but to the kids, it’s much more than that.”
Neither team had consistent pressure on the opposing goalkeeper. Ludlowe had a little more sustained offense, finishing with a 12-4 advantage in shots and a 3-0 edge in corner kicks.
But Warde might have had more quality scoring opportunities, missing high on two short direct kicks in the first half.
The Mustangs also had a golden opportunity early in the second half, Ludlowe goalie Fred Meagher (two saves) was there to deny two close shots by Mark Dubovsky and Jason Fromme.
The Mustangs were also without senior defender Jack Mappa, who spent the game with his arm in a sling after suffering an injury against Trinity Catholic on Wednesday.
“This game has always been a battle,” O’Hara said. “Hats off to Warde. They sustained some tough injuries over the past few days, so for them to come out here and fight the way they did, they were all over us at times.
“They could have scored at least two goals, especially early in the second half. We were fortunate our goalie was in the right place at the right time.”
Both defenses were also solid. Warde senior Michael Foley was a rock in front of the net while Ludlowe did it with physical play from players like Antonio Pindrys, Matt Doyle and Lorin Tobey and great balance across the back line.
Bellucci left the game with a quad injury 15 minutes into the game, but Layne did what he has been doing all season, coming off the bench and giving the Falcons a solid effort.
“Defense has been a key for us,” O’Hara said. “My back four has been solid all year, but for them to sustain it after the injury was great.”

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