Bears once again dominant, once again come away with tie
Bears dominant in tie
By Todd Kalif
NORWALK — Lopsided. Frustrating.
Those words summarize Monday’s game between the Norwalk High and Danbury High boys’ soccer teams.
Norwalk piled up 11 shots to Danbury’s four, eight corner kicks to Danbury’s three. The Hatters had the edge in one statistic: they earned two yellow cards; Norwalk, none. Despite the Bears’ domination, the game ended in a 0-0 tie, bringing their season record to 3-3-3. “I’d say we’re the best 3-3-3 team around,” Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said. “I don’t think anyone would deny that. We just couldn’t put the ball away. We had plenty of opportunities, at close range and just couldn’t put it in the back of the net. You have days like that and today was one of them.”
Still, Danbury played well. The overmatched Hatters (1-4-4) came to play and play hard. In the second minute, a Hatter mortar shot from 40 yards dropped toward the Norwalk crossbar.
“I actually did not see it coming at first, but then once it started coming toward me, I had to hustle back and get the ball over,” said Norwalk goalkeeper and co-captain Alex Hurd (three saves), whose leaping punch prevented an early Danbury lead. “It could have changed the game, but luckily I had a good touch on it.”
Norwalk cleared the corner kick and went on the attack, with Nic Zuniga dashing up the left wing and penetrating the Danbury defense to give Hatter goaltender Eric Cole (nine saves) his first test.
The next 20 minutes established the pattern of the game: they were played in Danbury’s half of the field, with a few brief Hatter forays into Bear territory.
Willy Arbieto fired a corner kick, cleared by the Danbury defense. Nic Zuniga found Chris Puente in the left corner and the Danbury defense cleared Puente’s centering pass. Andres Torres outran a Zuniga lead pass and was called offside just outside the goal crease. Cole smothered a fine Mike LePoutre center intended for Torres. Arbieto passed to Puente in the center and Cole cleared his pass to Jake Zuniga.
Nic Zuniga, alone with Cole, went offside on a Torres pass. A Zuniga to Zuniga exchange (Jake to Nic) ended with a Danbury defensive clear. Cole stopped a Nic Zuniga shot. The second of two Norwalk corner kicks in a minute ended as Kevin Lawrence’s header flew high.
In that 20-minute span, the Norwalk defense had to stop two brief Danbury thrusts, with Bear co-captain Tyler Collins stopping Danbury’s Brian DelDebbio on a near breakaway run.
“We just have to keep up the defensive side and pick up the offensive side,” Collins said. “We’re not getting any breaks yet, but we’ll start catching breaks offensively and getting goals.”
The Bears kept the offensive pressure on, coming within 18 inches of a goal on Erick Romero’s lovely header just before halftime.
After halftime, more of the same, with Danbury first crossing the midfield line in the 11th minute, their defense hard pressed to maintain the scoreless tie. The Norwalk offense, stringing together slick passing sequences, fruitlessly pressed to break that tie.
“I’m fortunate to have selfless guys who go out there and play for the team and play hard,” Laughton said. “It’s just that on days like this, you have chances and you don’t put them away and it ends up being 0-0. I thought we came out good in the second half.”
“We wanted to play and we wanted to win. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t finish them off.”
In the 77th minute, after countless unrealized opportunities, 18 inches again separated the Bears from finishing off their fourth victory as Sean Whitteaker fired a flat shot from the left, past Cole but just outside the far post.
“We’ve been tying all these teams and we’ve been dominating the games,” a disappointed Puente said. “We need to score on our chances. We’ve had nice chances, but we need to put them away. We have good forwards, but we’ve been unlucky. Like coach said, our breaks haven’t gotten there, but they’ll get there.”
The Bears took on Stamford on Wednesday and travel to Bridgeport today to face a very good Bridgeport Central team.
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