Bears fend off Black Knights
By Steve Geoghegan
Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK – The Norwalk High boys soccer team was looking to get back on the field as soon as possible.
The Bears were coming off a disappointing loss to New Canaan in the FCIAC quarterfinals, the second straight year they’ve exited the tournament at the hands of the Rams. Norwalk wanted to get that bad taste of losing out of its mouth.
It did just that as Kevin Joslyn scored two goals to lead the third-seeded Bears to a 2-1 victory over FCIAC foe and No. 30 seed Stamford in the first round of the Class LL state tournament Friday night at Testa Field.
“The guys were itching to get back,” Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said. “They’re excited and I thought we played a solid game. We possessed the ball really well. Stamford did a good job of being well-organized defensively which we knew they would. I thought we had a few opportunities but we just didn’t make the most of those chances between the first half and second half.
” But we survived and advanced,” he added. With the win, the Bears (14-2-2) advance to the second round where they’ll host No. 19 Westhill, which beat No. 14 Bristol Central 3- 0, Monday at 2 p. m. Norwalk defeated the Vikings 3-2 in the regular season.
The Bears were passing the ball effectively in the first half and put all kinds of pressure on Stamford’s defense and goalie Yelsson Llanos, who finished with nine saves. They broke through with a goal in the 11th minute.
Nick Zuniga charged down the middle of the field with the ball and fired off a shot with Llanos making a diving save. Joslyn was there to corral the rebound and blast a shot near post and into the bottom right corner of the net at 10:33.
“We realize that any team can beat any team (in the postseason) and we’re not going to let that happen again,” Joslyn said. It looked as if Norwalk would go into the half with a lead but in the final seconds, the Black Knights had a free kick in Norwalk’s end of the field.
With the ball at the 40yard line, Gustavo Torrealba sent a laser beam of a shot over the head of Norwalk keeper Svet Kozak and into the top left corner of the net as time expired to tie the score at 1- 1.
“We always talk about playing a complete game, an 80-minute game, and unfortunately there’s a moment of complacency and guys have to realize that that could eventually cost you the game,” Laughton said. ” I thought in the second half we did a much better job after we scored. We didn’t let the level drop. I thought (goalie) Danny Jakab came in and for never playing any meaningful minutes throughout the whole season was solid.” Jakab and Norwalk’s defense of Andrew Melitsanopoulos, Paul Soja, Santiago Muriel and Alejandro Rivera held Stamford in check the rest of the way. The Bears continued making runs into the Black Knights’ territory in the second half and their persistence yielded the deciding goal in the 51st minute. Zuniga played the ball in to Mike Broncati in the box. He was able to shake free from a few defenders and passed it back to Rivera, who crossed the ball to Joslyn, who came running in from near post and headed the ball into the bottom right corner for his 16th goal of the season at 51:46.
“Kevin is one of our best finishers,” Laughton said.
Norwalk could’ve made the score 3-1 but a penalty kick by Zuniga went wide left at 56:48.
© The Hour Newspaper.