Norwalk Chalks Up Tough Loss to Warde
By Todd Kalif
Article Launched: 10/18/2007 01:55:57 PM EDT
On Tuesday night, the Norwalk boys soccer team absorbed a very tough loss to a very tough Fairfield-Warde team. All season long, the Warde Mustangs could not catch a break. Tuesday, they caught one, Alex Pinheiro’s perfect second-period goal, which gave Warde a 1-0 victory.
The Bears held the ball in Ludlowe territory for the bulk of the first period. But getting the ball into the offensive third of the field was not enough, as an inspired Warde defense kept the potent Bear offense that had outscored Staples 5-0 just three days earlier, largely outside the 18-yard mark.
“That’s the frustrating part for this team,” said Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton. “On any given day, we can beat anybody and on any given day, we can lose to anybody. We don’t have that consistency yet.”
The Norwalk defense, however, was consistent. When the Mustangs got the ball across midfield, they ran into a tough, physical Norwalk defense, Tyler Collins cutting down Pinheiro racing up the left wing and goaltender Michael Jiminez (6 saves) diving into the sprinting Matt Vien to cover the ball were two examples.
“We were just trying to play team defense, just work as a team, everyone challenging the ball,” said Norwalk tri-captain Colin Prescott.
Norwalk began the second ten minutes with a well-coordinated offensive thrust. Andres Torres found tri-captain Ronald Machado in the center and Machado passed out to David Leon on the right wing. That round ended with a goal kick. Seconds later, Ezra Kuz-Dworzak appeared to have broken past the Warde defense, but he was called offside.
The Bears earned three corner kicks in the final 15 minutes of the half, but Warde’s Matt Freedman (eight saves) teamed with his defense to keep the game scoreless at halftime.
“We just couldn’t put the ball in the net,” said Prescott. “It was just unlucky. We’ve been unlucky all season, so hopefully it’ll come together before the state tournament.”
The Bears nearly opened the scoring early the second half. Manny Arteaga’s deflection of Melvin Rodriguez’ free kick just missed the Warde crossbar.
Ninety seconds later, Mustang striker Pinheiro snagged the ball at the 40-yard line. He dribbled wide to the right, firing a perfect shot into the upper left hand of the goal for the game winner.
Jimenez, unfazed by the goal, kept the game within reach, diving under the feet of Warde’s Matt Vien as he closed in after a booming clear from deep in Warde territory.
As the clock ran down, the Norwalk offense heated up, with Machado in charge of the offense. He fired in a perfect center in the 73rd minute and a fine corner kick in the 74th, but Freedman and his defensive gang kept the Bears from getting rebounds. With less than three minutes left, Freedman’s diving snag of Machado’s center from the right corner prevented a probable tie.
“I thought for sure something was going to happen there,” said Laughton. “The goalie made a nice save and their defense played solid. They didn’t really let up, so you’ve got to give them credit.”
With four tough games left on their schedule (Westhill, Trumbull, Darien, and St. Joseph), one victory will put the Bears (5-6-1) into the state tournament.
Prescott considered the strength of the Bear defense and the scoring potential of the offense and came to an inevitable conclusion.
“We’ll be all right,” he said. “We’ll be all right.”
© 2007 Norwalk Citizen-News