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Pickens' Perspective

Varsity vs Staples HS on 10/15/2011 4:00:00 PM
Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2011 by William Petroccio
 It's hard to celebrate a 0-0 draw.

But when you've been devoid of points, and dominated for years, any positive result is cause for celebration.

The Fairfield Warde boys soccer team had not even earned a measly point against Staples since 2004. The Wreckers held a 41-2-0 record all time against Andrew/Fairfield Warde High School entering Saturday's contest.

I asked Warde boys soccer coach Justin Ottavio prior to the season about his squad's inability to overcome the Wreckers' domination in the past. Two of those 41 victories came a year ago, including a 2-1 loss in the FCIAC Finals.

"We're a LL dominated league," he said, almost ducking the question of competing with the Wreckers. "We take each game with the same attitude. If you don't bring your `A' game day in and day out, we're going to walk away unhappy."

Unhappiness was the prospect for Warde in 2011, especially given the FCIAC's strength. Ottavio's expectations were far lower than usual after graduating 13 players-- and eight starters. The Mustangs sputtered to a 3-3-1 start that including a draw at depleted Bridgeport Central and disheartening losses to Darien and New Canaan.

Yet, somewhere during the season, the Mustangs grew up and improved. Senior leadership-- especially from senior captain Sal Siliciano-- carried Warde to its point on Saturday at Albie Loeffler Field. Warde hasn't lost a game since Sept. 30, going 3-0-2 in its last five.

Forget earning a point in Westport, which has been near impossible for any team to accomplish. What impressed me the most about the result is how Warde's defense and goalkeeping held the Wreckers scoreless for a whole game.

Considering the Mustangs have had college-caliber goalkeeping with Matt Freedman andDylan Strachan the past three seasons and haven't been able to keep the Wreckers off the board makes this season's result that much more impressive.

The other thing that tie did for Warde was give it the inside track for an FCIAC playoff berth. A 1-1-1 finish in the Mustangs' final three games should be enough for the No. 8 seed. Two wins could be enough for a first-round home game. But either way, back-to-back FCIAC playoff appearances and three in four seasons would be terrific for Ottavio and the Mustangs.

Not bad for a re-building year

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