Bears win thriller
Norwalk needs two overtimes to beat No. 20 Wilbur Cross
By TOM EVANS
Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK — The No. 13 Norwalk boys soccer team saw its season slipping away into the chilly night air Monday at Sam Testa Field as it trailed 20th-seeded Wilbur Cross 2-1 with under seven minutes left in the second half of the Class LL tournament opener.
But Matt Surace took advantage of a defensive lapse by the Governors to tap in the equalizer with 6:48 to play, and Tommy Garcia headed in a corner kick by Willy Arbieto with 3:15 remaining in the second overtime to give Norwalk a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
The Bears advance to take on No. 36 Cheshire Wednesday at Testa Field. Cheshire stunned fourthseeded Trumbull 3-0 Monday.
“I said at the half we’re not used to being down, and what you do in the second half will say a lot about your character,” Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said. “These kids were determined to win this game.”
Norwalk never led during the nearly 97 minutes of soccer until Garcia’s head shot went over the hands of goalkeeper Sergio Reyes (11 saves) and into the back of the net.
By the same token, the Bears never lost control of the game, and twice erased one-goal deficits in keeping their season alive.
Garcia, who blamed himself for the defensive letdown that produced the Governors’ second goal, kept believing in his teammates. “I gave up one (goal) in the second half, so I had to get one back,” Garcia said.
“On the goal I knew I had to get up pretty tall to get over their defenders, and I just got my head on the ball. We didn’t want to go to (penalty kicks).”
Wilbur Cross opened the scoring at 16:45 of the first half when Miguel Blake slid a short pass to James Doss- Golin deep in the Norwalk zone. Doss-Golin’s shot along the ground got under goalkeeper Alex Hurd (five saves) for the 1-0 lead.
Both teams had scoring chances in the first 40 minutes. Norwalk’s Spencer Jacoby had his low liner stopped by Reyes with a kick save at 11:50, and Reyes denied Andres Torres on a header less than two minutes later.
Jacoby had another chance in the second half too, but from the right side he sent an open look flying past the left post.
Norwalk answered 8:05 into the second half when Arbieto turned a Chris Puente corner kick into a goal. Arbieto headed the ball just inside the left post to tie the score 1-1.
“We let ’em back in the game, and once that happens, anything can happen,” Wilbur Cross head coach Edgar Miller said. “It’s tougher when you’re leading or ties all game. Overall, Norwalk is a good team that possessed the ball and moved the ball well. We had a really good season.We win and lose together.”
The Governors took away any momentum Norwalk had mustered in tying the game when Frank Guaman outraced Hurd to a loose ball. Guaman slid a pass to Blake, who tapped in the goahead goal with 22:22 on the game clock.
Surace found himself alone, except for Reyes, deep on the right wing after four consecutive Norwalk corner kicks. Surace moved away from the goalkeeper, and tapped in a slow roller that just crossed the goal line before a rush of Governor defenders.
Norwalk put up similar pressure in the second overtime, forcing Reyes to make four saves in the first six minutes of the second overtime.
“Our loss in the FCIAC semifinals motivated us for states,” Garcia said. “There was no doubt at any time that we’d win this game. We possessed the ball all game. I wanted to score for the team. We want to make the best run we can.”
For Laughton, this game was a good gut-check for his team, and he was pleased that his team didn’t lose its cool.
“The defense didn’t get frazzled, and that’s good because when we get away from our game we don’t play as well,” Laughton said. “We hope to clear up some errors.”
The Hour Newspaper – 11/4/08