Bears fall to Tigers
NORWALK – The Ridgefield boys soccer team broke a 1-1 tie with two goals in the second half to beat Norwalk 3-1 in a key early-season FCIAC match-up that had a late-season feel. “It felt like an FCIAC playoff-type game, mainly because of our crowd,” Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said. “It’s just disappointing to lose in front of our own fans.” Norwalk (1-1) could have easily come out on the winning end but failed to take advantage of numerous chances.
“We didn’t finish and when Ridgefield had an opportunity they capitalized,” Laughton said. “We’re usually a good finishing team but tonight we couldn’t find the back of the net.” At 15: 25, Norwalk took the lead when it scored off a Willy Arbieto corner. Despite being one of the smallest players in the box, talented junior striker Andres Torres fought his way to the near post on a timing play. Once Torres beat his man, Arbieto sent in a corner just short of the near post. With a Tigers defender all over him, Torres jumped and turned his back to the ball, letting it glance slightly off his number nine and past a stunned keeper into the goal. “You can do a lot of things if you get the ball to the near post on a corner,” Laughton said. “Fortunately (Torres) was there.” After getting robbed by Norwalk keeper Alex Hurd in the 22nd minute, Ridgefield midfielder Rex Messing scored off a free kick at 27:37 from 30 yards out to tie the score at 1-1. In the 56th minute, Ridgefield (2-0) was awarded a questionable corner on a deflection and took advantage.
The ball went quickly in to Mike Peckham on a short pass who sent a cross to the far post. Senior sweeper John Kirsh, who pushed up for the corner, headed the ball past Hurd for a 2-1 Tigers lead at 55:57.
“On the first two (Ridgefield) goals I think we lost focus for a second,” Laughton said. “We need to do better and stay focused the entire game.”
Torres, who was sent to the ground often by the Ridgefield defense, picked up a yellow card with 17:08 to play when he grabbed a Tigers player’s jersey from behind and dragged him to the ground.
In the 72nd minute, Norwalk nearly tied the game on what would have been a wacky Ridgefield own goal. Running towards the Tigers’ goal, James Suslavich spun and fired a clearing attempt that drilled an unsuspecting Matt Shannon in an uncomfortable place. The ball bounced off Shannon and just overthe crossbar. With Norwalk pushed up on attack in the final minutes, Ridgefield speedster Connor McCarthy took advantage on a counter-attack. McCarthy raced past a Bears defender and took a shot on Hurd. The rebound rolled across the goal line where Elliott Mathis knocked it in fora 3-1 lead with just 1:56 to play.
During the goal celebration, McCarthy earned himself a yellow card for taunting when he ran over to the Norwalk student section and stuck out his jersey number.
Norwalk returns to action Wednesday when it hosts Ludlowe.
© 2009 The Hour Newspaper