Norwalk boys soccer beats Wilton for share of FCIAC crown
By TOM EVANS
Hour Staff Writer
FAIRFIELD — With a weather-altered format, the FCIAC boys soccer tournament semifinals would determine the two teams that would share the title in 2012.
Top-seeded Norwalk was in championship form in the second semifinal on Taft Field at Roger Ludlowe High School on Tuesday night, erasing an early 1-0 deficit and claiming a 5-1 decision over No. 4 Wilton.
The Bears (14-3-1) will share the crown with second-seeded Ridgefield, which defeated No. 5 Greenwich, 2-0, in the earlier semifinal Tuesday. It is Norwalk’s first FCIAC championship of any kind since 2002.
“This feels great,” said Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton. “I’m a Norwalk guy, and I played for Norwalk High. The players and coaches put their heart and soul into this. We have 13 seniors, and the last two years (in the FCIAC tournament) they’ve seen heartache, losing to New Canaan in the first round. Their dreams were shattered. They believed this (championship) was theirs.”
The Warriors (13-4-1) were the only team to defeat Norwalk during the regular season, dominating the Oct. 3 matchup on Kristine Lilly Field 4-1.
For about 12 minutes on Tuesday, it appeared as if Wilton had found that same formula, dominating ball possession after Troy Lamason stole the ball and fed David Brown for an easy goal 65 seconds into the contest, staking the Warriors to the quick 1-0 lead.
John Prinner sent a blast inches over the crossbar about two minutes after the goal, and Robert Aravena missed an open net from the just off the right post, missing two chances to extend the Wilton lead.
“They wanted a re-match and they got it,” Wilton head coach Jim Lewicki said of Norwalk. “They played a good game. When you miss opportunities — and they don’t come very often in games like this — you don’t get them back. We missed two good ones after the first goal. Norwalk pressured a lot harder than we did. We didn’t stay with our man, and that was a big part of this game. Norwalk played very well. We learned a lesson today: When you make mistakes, they come back to bite you on the (butt). We hope we see them again (in the state tournament).”
Svet Kozak (five saves) stopped Sean Dedrick about eight minutes in, sending Norwalk on its first real attack a few minutes later. Peter Como made the first three of his 14 saves to deny Matt Capomolla and Kevin Joslyn twice, before the Bears broke through.
Alejandro Rivera chipped a pass over a defender to Joslyn, and the striker blooped a shot over Como into the net at the 22:56 mark to tie the score 1-1.
Como made three more saves as the Bears pushed the play, before Nacho Navarro rushed the left wing and stuffed a shot between Como and the left post at 11:37 to put Norwalk ahead to stay. Rivera sent Navarro in on goal.
“This feels amazing, our first championship in our four years,” Navarro said for himself and his dozen senior teammates. “I grew up with these kids, and we worked so hard for this. (Early on) I told the defense not to worry, we just had to play our game. (Wilton’s first goal) was shocking, but we knew we had the better team.”
Wilton kept the play fairly even to start the second half, but the Bears forced a corner kick (Norwalk produced all five corners of the game), and made it pay off.
Santiago Muriel sent a curling pass near the top of the box and Capomolla swooped in to fire a left-footed rocket over Como and into the twine for a 3-1 advantage, 9:27 into the second half.
Just over three minutes later, a crisp entry had Capomolla sending a cross that glanced off Muriel before reaching Navarro on the right side, and Navarro — the tournament Most Valuable Player — whipped a shot that found the net to extend the margin to 4-1 with 27:19 to play.
“On my first goal, I just tried to go near post,” Navarro said. “I like to go near post as much as I can. The second was just a blast on net. After my (second) goal I knew we had it, at 4-1. That was amazing. It put it away.”
Joslyn banged and battled his way through several defenders, keeping the play alive, and fed Muriel, who slammed home the final goal with 16:22 remaining to put an exclamation point on the proceedings.
“Co-champs was one of the things we talked about,” Laughton said. “We beat Ridgefield. We beat Greenwich. We were happy to avenge the only loss we had. That game was a wakeup call for us. We went in 7-0, and we were getting complacent. We haven’t lost since then.”
Laughton was not concerned with some early sluggishness on the part of the Bears.
“I was confident we were going to settle in,” Laughton said. “We had a week off because of the storm, and that was tough. I knew we’d settle in. We just had to play to our strengths.”
© The Hour Newspaper
Norwalk wins share of FCIAC soccer title
By Cameron Martin
Coming into last Tuesday night’s FCIAC tournament co-final against Wilton, Norwalk had amassed 12 shutouts on the season, including a 2-0 win over Danbury in the FCIAC opener.
The Bears have not been accustomed to trailing many opponents, and yet that was the challenge they faced after Wilton junior David Brown scored less than two minutes into the match.
“We haven’t been able to practice for a week and a half, so we knew that we’d probably come out a little rusty,” Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said, alluding to the hiatus caused by Hurricane Sandy. “But I’m happy with the way the guys responded.”
Norwalk came out somewhat flat in the first few minutes, but Wilton didn’t capitalize on several point-blank scoring opportunities. Norwalk (16-1-1) kept it at a one-goal deficit and started resembling the team that won the FCIAC regular-season title.
Led by Nacho Navarro’s two goals, the Bears beat the Warriors 5-1 to become co-champions of the truncated FCIAC tournament, exacting revenge against the only team to defeat them this season.
“They killed us the first time. We needed revenge,” Navarro said.
Norwalk will share the FCIAC tournament title with Ridgefield, after the league opted to shorten its postseason tournament following the aftereffects of the recent superstorm. Ridgefield beat Greenwich 2-0 earlier in the evening at Taft Field.
Some might take issue with the bestowal of co-titles, but given Norwalk’s FCIAC tournament record in recent years — losing in the first round as the No. 1 seed each of the previous two seasons — a piece of the championship will not be sneered at.
“As a sophomore and junior, we had the best team during the season,” Navarro said. “We couldn’t win. We’re a family and we did it this year.”
The first 10 minutes belonged to Wilton, but they missed several prime opportunities to add additional goals.
After Brown’s opening score, sophomore Sean Dedrick almost made it 2-0 when he hit the post at 35:35. Less than a minute later, a Wilton crossing pass dribbled through the Norwalk box. Senior Robert Aravena had a wide-open net but he pulled a left-footed shot to the left of Norwalk goaltender Tyler Dalton (4 saves) and missed the net entirely.
Three minutes later, a lackadaisical clear by Norwalk was nearly disastrous, but Dedrick was stoned by Dalton.
“We missed a couple of opportunities,” Wilton coach Jim Lewicki said. “We talked about it and we said boy that’s not a good thing. The first five minutes, you had three opportunities and you only cashed in on one?”
Norwalk’s Kevin Joslyn opened the scoring for the Bears. Senior Alejandro Rivera looped a crossing pass that Joslyn gracefully fielded out of the air and toed over Wilton goalkeeper Peter Como (13 saves), knotting the score 1-1 at 22:56.
Eleven minutes later, Navarro went nearside post off the hands of Como to put Norwalk ahead 2-1, which held up till the intermission. The Bears had 11 shots on goal to Wilton’s six in the opening 40 minutes. Wilton wouldn’t get their next shot on goal until well into the second half as Norwalk soon took over the match.
“The regular-season game was a good wakeup call for us,” Laughton said. “We were 7-0 going into that game and Wilton came at us and played a great game against us. We were fortunate to come out and finish our opportunities tonight.”
Winning the league title is satisfying, but the team has higher aims, Laughton said.
“These guys are excited. They want to win states. The last time we won states in Norwalk was 1966. That’s what they want their legacy to be. They want to be the best team that ever came through Norwalk. They’re on their way.”
NORWALK 5, WILTON 1
NORWALK 2 3–5
WILTON 1 0–1
Goals: N– Nacho Navarro 2, Kevin Joslyn, Matt Capomolla, Santiago Muriel. Assists: Alejandro Rivera, Muriel, Capomolla. W–David Brown. Goalie saves: N–Tyler Dalton 4; W–Peter Como 13.
Records: Norwalk 16-1-1, Wilton 13-4-1.
© Norwalk Citizen Online