FAIRFIELD -- Ties often leave teams feeling less than satisfied at game's end, but in the case of New Canaan at Fairfield Warde on Monday afternoon, there were plenty of positives to take out of the 2-2 deadlock for both the Rams and the Mustangs.
For New Canaan (5-0-1), which trailed 2-0 until late in the first half, the tie kept the Rams among the ranks of the unbeaten six games into the season.
"They definitely had us on the counter-attack. It's really where they caught us," New Canaan coach Victor Sanchez said. "The most important thing is when you do go down 2-0 that you have that fight in you. These boys have never given up, and obviously we saw that."
For Warde (2-3-1), which had been shut out in two straight games, the tie with an unbeaten team could serve as a confidence booster as the season progresses.
"We were still working all the way to the end, and unfortunately we couldn't put one in," said Matthew Petroccio, who scored Warde's second goal. "We were very positive after this game. They were 5-0, a very good team and we're hoping to see them in the postseason."
As is often the case in nail-biting finishes, this game wasn't without some controversy. With the teams knotted at 2-2, Warde appeared to score the go-ahead goal for a 3-2 lead, but it was nullified due to an offside call.
"I don't think it was offside. I thought I saw some guys on the post," said Warde's Alex Landau, who scored the first goal of the game. "We've been in a little bit of a slump before this. I think we saw this 5-0 team and wanted to end that 5-0 streak. It was our time to work hard."
"I didn't see it. I would say that with that tight space it would be tough to believe there was an offside there," Sanchez said. "I also trust the ref's decision there; he was in line to catch that. Luckily, it was in our favor."
Warde made the most out of what few scoring opportunities it created in the first half and scored a pair of goals on fast breaks on its first two shots. Landau scored with 25:35 remaining and Matthew Petroccio doubled Warde's lead 13 minutes later to put New Canaan in an early hole.
With time dwindling in the half, it appeared New Canaan would need to rally from a 2-0 hole in the final 40 minutes, but Steven Valente had other plans, as he scored New Canaan's first goal following a scramble in front of the Warde net with 39 seconds left. Alex Robey was credited with an assist.
"Justin (Pertierra) sent a nice ball in and Keith Griffin flicked in onto Robey. Robey just flicked it over his head, the goalie was coming out, it went over the goalie and I got a lucky tap-in," Valente said. "We'll take it after being down 2-0."
New Canaan found the equalizer less than seven minutes into the second half on an own goal that deflected off of a Warde defender.
Both teams had opportunities for a game-winner but couldn't capitalize. New Canaan's best chance came when Juan Ricardo Deambrosio sent his shot off the right post with 5:50 remaining.
Then, with only 31 seconds left, Warde's Jamie Surrick chased a bouncing ball in the direction of the New Canaan net but was challenged by New Canaan goalie Michael Powell. The two collided in mid-air before the ball was cleared by Pertierra. Powell stayed down for a few moments but remained in the game for the final seconds.
email@example.com Twitter: @jchik17
New Canaan 2, Fairfield Warde 2
NEW CANAAN 1 1 --2
FAIRFIELD WARDE 2 0 --2
Records: New Canaan 5-0-1; Fairfield Warde 2-3-1.
Goals: NC -- Steven Valente; FW -- Alex Landau, Matthew Petroccio. Assists: NC -- Alex Robey. Goalies: NC -- Michael Powell (4 saves); FW -- Steven Bartlett (8). Shots: NC -- 15; Warde -- 8.