STRATFORD — Though it might be a long shot, Bunnell girls soccer coach Sebastian Wojdaszka is still hoping his team can sneak into the state tournament.
The Bulldogs kept alive those chances Saturday, getting first-half goals from Mia DiPronio and Fabriola Millien-Faustin to defeat town rival Stratford 2-0 at Penders Field.
Sarah Tartaglio recorded three saves for the Bulldogs (4-7), who have strung together consecutive wins for the first time this season after out-shooting the Red Devils (2-9) by a 22-5 margin.
Bunnell was coming off a 3-1 victory over Bethel on Thursday.
While the Bulldogs dominated Stratford territorially, they missed some chances to add to their lead.
With eight minutes remaining in the game, Bunnell had a goal negated due to an offside call and Olivia Kells drilled a shot off the middle of the crossbar seconds later.
Red Devils’ goalkeeper Helen LeFever kept the game close by making 11 saves.
“I think the first half definitely was much better than the second half,” Wojdaszka said. “They’re always tough games (against Stratford). This is my 11th year and every year we play them, it really doesn’t matter. Who’s better goes out the window. You could see that second half, I don’t think we played our best. I think we kind of switched off for the majority of it and you can’t switch off against anybody. With a little bit of luck, it could have been an interesting game.”
After a sluggish start over the first 10 minutes, Bunnell kept the ball in Stratford’s end for most of the remainder of the first half and cashed in twice in a span of just under five minutes from nearly the same spot on the field.
”I think the first half we were too defensive,” Stratford coach Sarah Stevens said. “We had too much of a defensive mentality in the first half and got caught up in the middle of the field. We weren’t getting the ball out quickly enough when it was at the top of the 18. There were too many risky situations that we didn’t get rid of quickly enough.”
At the 25:36 mark, DiPronio was left alone at the top of the box and drilled a 20-yard shot into the top right corner.
Bunnell continued to press the action and doubled its lead at the 20:39 mark when Millien-Faustin cut into the middle and rifled a low shot inside the left post.
“We were lacking communication out there, who was going to take care of the ball, who was going to get it out,” Stevens added. “Some people got caught ball watching and they capitalized on opportunities that we were not paying attentionto.”
After a quiet first half in which the Bulldogs enjoyed a 12-1 edge in shots, Tartaglio finally made her first save just over two minutes into the second half.
She then preserved the shutout when she stopped Ava Buckmir from close range with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
“Obviously, we are better than where we were even a week or two ago but, at this point, we have to be more consistent,” Wojdaszka said.”We can’t be playing batches of 20-, 30-minute games. It’s got to be 80 minutes for the most part. That what we need to work on for the rest of the season.”
With a 15-game slate instead of 16, the Bulldogs need to split their remaining four contests to qualify for the state tournament.
A 6-9 mark — winning 40 percent of their games — would get them in.
However, they have tough games remaining at Newtown (5-1-7) on Monday, home for Barlow (3-4-3) on Thursday and at Brookfield (7-2-4) on Oct. 28 before the rematch against Stratford to conclude the regular season on Oct. 30.
Stratford is back in action at home on Monday against Notre Dame of Fairfield (9-2-2).