The Wreckers will face Greenwich in the FCIAC title game after downing Norwalk in the semis.
By MIKE MADAR
For Staples, revenge is best served in the playoffs. The Wreckers boys soccer team avenged an Oct. 2 loss to Norwalk — its only blemish of the season so far — with a 3-0 win over the fourth-seeded Bears in the FCIAC semifinals Monday night at Taft Field.
“We had a score to settle and we settled it,” Staples head coach Dan Woog said. “We have tremendous respect for Norwalk. They have tremendous coaches and tremendous players. We’ll probably be battling them like this for the next 10 years.”
The top-seeded Wreckers (17-1) will meet third-seeded Greenwich, a 1-0 double-overtime winner over seventh-seeded Warde, in the championship game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Norwalk’s Testa Field.
Norwalk fell to 10-5-2 and will host a Class LL state tournament game Monday.
Brendan Lesch, Jairo Alvarado and Mike White scored in a span of 2:57 to give the Wreckers the victory.
Lesch intercepted a kick from Norwalk keeper Alex Hurd (five saves) and carried the ball about 10 yards before blistering a shot inside the far post.
Just 58 seconds later Alvarado buried a White pass from the end line to double the Wreckers lead.
Norwalk controlled play in the first half but a pair of great saves by Adam Liu (six saves) on always-dangerous sophomore striker Andres Torres kept the game scoreless until Lesch struck in the 55th minute.
“Adam hasn’t gotten many accolades but he always makes one or two saves that changes the game around,” Woog said.
In the first semifinal, Pablo Cameselle sent Greenwich to the title game when he scored with 3.2 seconds remaining in the second overtime.
With less than 20 seconds to play, Estevan Duque scrambled to send a free kick into the box where Scott Marschall flicked it on.
Cameselle somehow got his right foot on the ball amidst a scrum in front for the golden goal.
The Hour Newspaper – 10/26/08
Staples boys close in on another title
By Dave Ruden
FAIRFIELD — They were supposed to be too young, lacking in seasoning, in need of some more polish to take the direct leap from a .500 squad to championship contender.
But the members of the Staples High School boys soccer team are continuing to show that a little innocence and a lot of talent is a pretty good combination.
The Wreckers, after a sluggish first half, erupted for three goals in three minutes Monday night to topple Norwalk, 3-0, in the semifinal round of the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference Tournament.
In avenging the only loss of its 50th-year anniversary season, the most decorated program in league history moved one win away from a 25th conference title.
“I thought our youth would hurt us somewhere down the line, and it might have in the first game against Norwalk when we didn’t get up for it, but they are very tough and very passionate,” Staples coach Dan Woog said.
Ranked third in the state with a 16-1 mark, and a year removed from a 7-7-2 mark, the Wreckers overcame a tentative start with an explosive burst ignited by Brandan Lesch’s magnificent goal in the 55th minute. Showing they are wiser than their years, instead of sitting on the lead they extended it as Mike White set up a score by Jairo Alvarado, then put his own shot into the net to complete the outburst.
“We talked at halftime about the importance of poise, the importance of patience,” Woog said. “I did not think it would be a 3-0 game. I thought it would be a 1-0 game either way. They understand the importance of going for the jugular after getting one.”
Staples advanced to Wednesday’s night final, where it will meet Greenwich. The Wreckers, who shared the league title with Trumbull two years ago and Westhill in 2000, have not won one outright since 1996.
Staples defeated the Cardinals during the regular season, 2-0.
The Wreckers’ only loss came against the Bears by a 1-0 margin on Oct. 2. They nearly found themselves in an early deficit twice in the first half Monday night.
Andres Torres, Norwalk’s electric sophomore forward, had two great chances, only to be robbed by Staples goalkeeper Adam Liu.
On the first, in the 27th minute, Matt Surace played a ball to Torres, but Liu came off his line to make the save and then beat Nic Zuniga to the rebound. In the 36th minute, Torres got behind the defense but Liu made an acrobatic kick save.
“He is unflashy, no one notices him and he makes one or two great saves a game that turns the game around,” Woog said.
Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said the two plays proved to be the turning point.
“Adam’s saves really changed the game,” Laughton said. “If you go in 2-0 at the half you take a different approach.”
The Wreckers were much more assertive after halftime and that aggressiveness paid off in the game’s first goal.
Lesch, one of three center midfielders on the roster for two spots, was moved to the right side, as Woog said, “to see if he could create something.”
Lesch picked up a clearing ball, dribbled about 30 yards down the right side and drilled a hard shot inside the far post to give the Wreckers the lead.
“We regrouped at halftime and decided to come out harder,” Lesch said. “We thought it was coming. The ball came out and I took it on the run and things opened up for me.”
A minute later, Alvarado put a pass to White near the end line. White gave the ball back to Alvarado, who was unmarked in front of the net for an easy score.
White made it 3-0 when he converted on the third try following a free kick.
“Give Staples credit,” said Laughton, whose team will take a 10-5-2 mark into the state tournament. “They came out on fire and we came out flat. It shows what can happen in five minutes when you are sleeping out there.”
The Wreckers dominated possession time throughout the half and emptied its bench in the final minutes. Sanders McNair came off the bench and made two saves to preserve the shutout.
“This feels great,” Lesch said. “They beat us early in the season and we are definitely excited to get them back.”
The Wreckers started just three seniors Monday night. Last month, they played before a large crowd of alumni during the program’s 50th anniversary weekend.
“We were very aware what it was all about and think it was very important, something special to be a part of,” Lesch said.
Now they will get the chance to add another chapter to the venerable team’s history.
“At some level I think they understood that day what it means to be a Staples soccer player,” Woog said. “Now they want to write their own story.”
FCIAC.net – 10/28/08