Set pieces help Staples blank Trum­bull

Connecticut Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Cardillo

WEST­PORT — Stick around soc­cer long enough and in­vari­ably you’ll hear a coach or pun­dit wax­ing po­etic about the value of set pieces — es­pe­cially in knock­out games.

The Staples girls soc­cer team found this out the hard way last sea­son, los­ing to Ridgefield in the Class LL fi­nal on a pair of goals from dead-ball sit­u­a­tions. The Wreck­ers learned from it and used it as an op­por­tu­nity to hone their own prow- ess on set plays this sea­son.

Those skills were on full dis­play Fri­day af­ter­noon in Staples’ 3-0 vic­tory over FCIAC ri­val Trum­bull in a Class LL quar­ter­fi­nal played at rainy Bed­ford Mid­dle School. The fifth-seeded Wreck­ers scored twice from set pieces in the first half and ad­vance to next week’s semi­fi­nals against No. 1

Glas­ton­bury.

“Com­ing into this sea­son we were re­ally fo­cus­ing on set plays,” said Reese Sutter, who scored a 30-yard rocket that made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute. “We’ve been re­ally prac­tic­ing our kicks.”

Staples needed less than 10 min­utes to make it 1-0 when Gabriela Gonzalez nod­ded in Ash­ley Wright’s cor­ner from the right side for the fresh­man’s first goal of the sea­son.

“She’s been des­per­ate for one all sea­son,” Staples coach Barry Beat­tie said.

Sutter made it 2-0 be­fore the half with her bril­liant in­di­vid­ual strike. Stand­ing over the ball, she con­sulted

with Wright — who usu­ally adds more bend — and de­cided to go for power her­self, blast­ing it into the up­per right cor­ner from well out­side the penalty area.

“I fig­ured I would try some­thing new and take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to drive it,” Sutter said.

Al­though the Wreck­ers (15-1-3) spend time on set plays, Beat­tie sim­ply tipped his cap to Sutter for her shot from the mid­dle-left side of the field.

“That free kick from Reese was all her,” he said. “I can’t take any credit for that one.”

Down two goals, No. 13 seed Trum­bull mounted a fight­back, but couldn’t get much go­ing in front of the Staples goal. The best

chances for the Ea­gles (13-7) came on long-range at­tempts by se­nior Daniella Milo­vanov. Her shot from dis­tance in the sec­ond half prompted Staples’ keeper Zoe Bar­nett to punch it over the bar for a cor­ner.

“We’re prob­a­bly the small­est team, to be fair, in our league,” Trum­bull coach Richard Suther­land said. “We do lack a lit­tle bit in height. We knew we’d be up against it be­cause they’ve got a bit of height and are good on set pieces.”

Staples made it 3-0 with 15 min­utes left on a goal by Kathryn Ia­leg­gio.

“They’ll be a hard team to beat,” Suther­land said.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Reese Sutter, Staples. The ju­nior’s driven free kick from 30 yards away in the first half changed the game and gave the Wreck­ers one foot into the semi­fi­nals.

QUOTABLE

“I don’t know if los­ing in the fi­nal was ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion, our girls just re­ally fo­cused on one game to an­other. They take the task at hand. Trum­bull is a good team and they don’t stop work­ing. So for us to come up with that 3-0 is a mas­sive re­sult.” — Staples coach Barry Beat­tie on los­ing in the 2017 Class LL fi­nal and its ef­fect on this year’s run to the semi­fi­nals.

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