Boys Soccer

Klicin’s Hat Trick Carries Warde Past Ludlowe And Into Semifinals

Fairfield Warde’s Jordan Klicin celebrates after scoring one of his three goals against Fairfield Ludlowe. (Mark Conrad)

FAIRFIELD — With the score tied at 1-1 during today’s FCIAC boys soccer quarterfinal, Fairfield Warde’s Jordan Klicin got free behind the Fairfield Ludlowe defense for an uncontested shot.

In the one-and-out crucible of the postseason, where chances can be sparing, Klicin put a shot right at Ludlowe goalkeeper Nick Tenreiro.

Disappointment was fleeting. With this year’s Mustangs, it is reload and attack.

“Of course it’s frustrating because you feel like you let your team down,” Klicin said. “The best way to cheer your team back up is to get another one and that’s what we did.”

Klicin, who had scored the first goal, added two more, while Jack Berecz knocked in what proved to be the game-winner in overtime as the top-seeded Mustangs twice relinquished leads against their town rival and advanced with a 4-2 victory.

Fairfield Ludlowe’s Matt Rullo clears the ball away off a corner kick. (Mark Conrad)

In an FCIAC sport where parity is the norm, Warde remained unbeaten at 14-0-3.

“It’s just a special group,” Warde coach Justin Ottavio said. “It is so entertaining to watch and so exciting. The movement off the ball has been something special. And they play together in the offseason so the dynamics are uncanny. They know where one another is going to be, they can read one another’s posture and they just see things unfold and evolve as the game is being fluidly played. They have confidence in one another.”

Warde has only reached the final once, losing to Staples in 2010. A consolidated Fairfield High School won two titles.

In what promises to be a highly entertaining game, the Mustangs play No. 5 Wilton in Tuesday’s semifinals. Staples and Trumbull meet in the second game.

Having to face Ludlowe was a difficult reward for the Mustangs’ regular season success, and both teams held little back on the attack.

The Mustangs’ Jake Berecz scores what proved to be the game-winning goal in overtime. (Mark Conrad)

The Falcons’ 6-3-7 record coming in was indicative of a young team able to play with the rest of the league. Their largest margin of defeat was two goals, and that came in the second match of the season.

Ludlowe had some good early chances but it was Klicin who struck first, getting space to turn on a shot and score in the 10th minute.

The Falcons were persistent battling from behind. They did it for the first time in the 25th minute, when George Cortes scored on a rebound.

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Klicin put Warde back on top in the 64th minute. Off a long throw-in, Danny Villalba flicked the ball in front of the goal and Klicin was positioned to finish.

Warde’s Danny Villalba and Ludlowe’s Zaid Atta battle for the ball. (Mark Conrad)

“With the first two it obviously started with isolating the wingers and we get the ball wide and we create chances, whether it’s throw-ins, set pieces or open play, and I think those were our keys for success today,” Klicin said.

Warde’s lead lasted for seconds. Off a set piece, James Radman curled a shot over the wall and high into the net to equalize.

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The teams headed to overtime, the Mustangs not wanting to see their hard work compromised at the start of the postseason, the Falcons feeling poised for the upset.

Right before the end of the first of two 10-minute overtimes, Berecz found a seam to attack and finished. Minutes later Klicin had his third goal, a well-placed shot from the left side.

“We’re really comfortable with each other,” Klicin said. “Most of us have known each other for a long, long time and played soccer together for a long, long time so I feel we have that trust knowing where we are going to be at most times.”

Warde goalkeeper Alex Kagan collides with the Falcons’ Matt Rullo as they try to make a play off a corner kick. (Mark Conrad)

Ludlowe coach Kevin O’Hara was unable to find fault with his team, which has been the case this season. The Falcons had to defeat Greenwich in Monday night’s final just to qualify for the tournament.

“That’s a good team,” O’Hara said of Warde. “They’ve got some really, really good players and my boys rose to the occasion. In the full 80 minutes it was 1-0 and they came back. It was 2-1 and they came back. Unfortunately they ran out of gas. A mistake there on the third goal and then we pushed up and they countered and got the fourth. If I’m not going to get it I’m happy to see them get it. The dynamic forwards they have and the quickness up front. They sit back and then attack so quickly with Danny, with Jake and a couple of other forwards. They are creative and they put our defenders on their heels very quickly.”

Wilton is one of the few teams that did not lose to Warde; they played to a 3-3 draw. The Warriors matched them the longest, staying unbeaten before going 0-2-1 to end the regular season.

“Their team speed is something we need to account for and focus on,” Ottavio said. “I’m sure both programs want an opportunity after that draw to see who prevails. I’m confident we’re going to do the right thing and move forward.”