FAIRFIELD — One of the reasons piling up regular season wins matters is the possibility of getting to play multiple games at home in the state tournament.
By virtue of its 13-0-3 regular season, the Warde boys soccer team earned the No. 2 seed in the CIAC Class LL tournament and the chance to play three games without having to get on a bus.
No. 2 Warde had to hold on down the stretch but it will indeed get to play a state quarterfinal on its home turf, Friday after beating No. 18 Norwalk 2-1 in the Second Round.
Warde will host the winner of Wednesday night’s game between No. 7 Farmington and No. 23 South Windsor with a trip to the final four at stake.
“The bus ride is nice for camaraderie, which has entertainment value, at times. But being able to walk out of school at 12:30, being relaxed and decreasing stress as much as possible in games like this, is ideal,” Warde coach Justin Ottavio said. “Fortunately, we are in the situation where someone has to come to us. It is a rewarding feeling to have an opportunity to play in front of our fans and they don’t have to commute.”
Warde hit the ground running, jumping all over the Bears in the first 30 minutes of the game, scoring twice.
The first goal was pure hustle as Jordan Klicin raced in to a ball slowly bouncing towards the Norwalk keeper, sprinting past defenders who had seemingly let up on the play assuming nobody was giving chase.
Klicin got to the ball fractions of a second ahead of the keeper, chipping it past him for the goal.
“Our coach is big on hustling every last play,” Klicin said. “We had a similar goal against Westhill where it looks like you aren’t going to get there but, in the end, if you work hard enough you never know what’s going to happen. You just have to follow the play.”
Norwalk was again caught flat-footed when Warde striker Danny Villalba dribbled past everyone from 40 yards out, firing home the second goal for the Mustangs.
Norwalk would wake up, getting the better of play for most of the second half.
The Bears finally got on the board with 16:46 remaining when Javier Romero scored off a nice pass into the box by Jhonny Santamaria.
Norwalk would continue to press but could not get the equalizer.
“I was disappointed in how we came out. I thought we were focused, had a good warmup but they just came out much harder than we did and asserted themselves and controlled the game at the start,” Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said. “I am proud of how we fought back. We played with pride in the second half. I am proud of that effort but you have to play 80 minutes in the state tournament.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jordan Klicin, Warde. Klicin set the tone with his early hustle-goal.
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WARDE 2, NORWALK 1
NORWALK 0 1—1
WARDE 2 0—2
Goals: N-- Javier Romero; W—Jordan Klicin, Danny Villalba. Assists: N-- Jhonny Santamaria; W—Sean Rodriguez. Goalies: N—Joe D’Allacco 5 saves; W—Andrew Jones 4 saves