Wreckers nip Bears on PK
By MIKE MADAR
NORWALK — Alan Reiter scored on a penalty kick with 7:16 remaining to give Staples a 2-1 win over Norwalk in front of a raucous crowd at Testa Field Tuesday night. Following a Staples corner, a scrum in the box ensued with the Wreckers’ main set piece target in Mike Fitzgerald on the ground. The referee immediately awarded a penalty kick that Reiter placed in the bottom left corner for the game-winner.
“It was a great game between two excellent teams with a real FCIAC atmosphere,” Staples head coach Dan Woog said after his team improved to 8-0. Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton disagreed vehemently with the penalty kick call, actually running out towards the goal to have a word with the referee.
“I saw a scramble in the box,” Laughton said of the play. When asked what the referee’s response was to his comments, Laughton wasn’t too pleased. “He wouldn’t talk to me. I don’t know (what he saw),” Laughton said. Norwalk ( 3- 2- 2), which probably deserved a better fate, had its chances in the first half, but the always stingy Staples defense held the Bears without a goal.
Despite being shadowed by the Wreckers’ defense, Norwalk’s best opportunities came from junior forward Andres Torres who was the best player on the field.
In the 15th minute, Torres weaved his way through the Staples defense but was forced to take a poor angle shot that Staples keeper Mike McCarthy easily handled. Ten minutes later, the Bears’ Tyler Collins sent Torres a long ball from the backline. Running at full speed, Torres got a boot on it but sent the shot over the bar while under heavy pressure from McCarthy.
In the 35th minute, McCarthy turned away a sneaky sinking shot from Torres to keep the game scoreless.
“In the first 30 minutes we executed everything we talked about,” Laughton said.
Late in the first half, Staples applied heavy pressure and nearly broke through on the scoreboard. With less than three minutes remaining in the first half Sean Gallagher sent a ball in to Fitzgerald but his header was handled by Norwalk keeper Alex Hurd. Less than a minute later, Staples leading goal scorer Greg Gudis sent a blistering shot from the top of the box that Hurd tipped over the bar. Staples would take the lead 3:36 into the second half when Norwalk failed to clear a corner. After Gallagher sent in the corner, the ball bounced around the box and eventually headed towards the goal line. Mike Lepoutre tried to blast the ball off the line but it hit Fitzgerald in the back and deflected past a stunned Hurd and into the goal.
Just 1: 22 later, Norwalk answered.
Willy Arbieto did the dirty work in the corner and fed Torres in the box. Torres got a step past his man and fired a low shot past McCarthy inside the near post.
“It got the momentum back in our favor,” Laughton said of the Torres goal. “We had a few chances after that but couldn’t put them away.”
Following another classic game between the two rivals, both coaches showed nothing but respect for each other.
“Out of the teams we’ve seen, they’re the class of the FCIAC,” Woog said. “We will see them again.”
Laughton was grateful for the praise from the Wreckers coach.
“That means a lot coming from Dan who is just an exemplary guy,” Laughton said. “For Dan or anyone in the league to consider us in that group is an honor.”
© The Hour Newspaper
Tough loss for Bears versus Staples
By Patrick McNamee
NORWALK — The game between the Norwalk and Staples boys soccer teams Tuesday night was billed as a potential Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship preview.
If both teams continue to play as they did, that prediction will come true.
Staples edged by Norwalk on a penalty shot goal with just over seven minutes left for a 2-1 win at Testa Field. With the victory, Staples (8-0) remains undefeated and beat Norwalk (3-2-2) for the second straight time dating back to last season.
“It was a great game between two excellent teams from the FCIAC, they stretched the field well, spread us out and made us work,” Staples coach Dan Woog said. “We heard they were the class of the FCIAC and they showed us that tonight.”
The winning goal off the foot of captain Alan Reiter was not without controversy, however. The kick was set up after a Staples corner kick led to a frenzy in front of the Norwalk goal. The referees called a foul in the box, though Norwalk coach Chris Laughton didn’t see it that way, running onto the field to protest the goal.
“I saw a scramble in front of the net, that’s all I saw,” Laughton said. “(The referee) wouldn’t speak to me about it.”
Reiter took advantage of the break, firing a shot into the left corner to give Staples the lead and the win.
“Give them all the credit in the world, Norwalk played a great game,” Woog said.
Norwalk was visibly frustrated after the game, but Laughton knows his team was good enough to win.
“I thought we played well, we created a lot of chances, and it was unfortunate we gave up those two shots,” he said. “Staples is a well coached and well organized team.
Norwalk dominated for much of the first half, keeping the ball in the Staples zone, pressuring their defense. Forward Andres Torres had the best chance of the first half, rifling a shot from about 25-yards out that forced Staples goalie Mike McCarthy to make a diving save to his right.
“They really pushed us forward well and used their speed to attack, but we held our own,” defenseman Mikey Fitzgerald said.
McCarthy’s save was equaled by numerous jumping and diving saves by Hurd, who played better than he had all season.
“That was the best he’s played all year and we were waiting for that kind of game from Alex,” Laughton said. “He took control, he was vocal, he did everything real well.”
In the second half, Staples came out on fire and got on the board first less than four minutes in, scoring off a corner kick when Fitzgerald positioned himself in front of the net, allowing the ball to bounce off his back and into the net.
“Right place, right time,” Fitzgerald said.
It took Norwalk all of a minute to answer. Will Arbieto rushed along the right of the goal up the field and found Torres, who beat two defenders plus Staples goalie McCarthy to reenergize his team and the large crowd.
“That was big, it was a great goal and it got us going again quickly after we let one in,” Laughton said.
Despite numerous other opportunities, including at least three by Torres, Norwalk was unable to break through again.
“I told the guys I thought they played a good smart game, sometimes the score just doesn’t indicate how well you played,” Laughton said. “We expect to see them again.”
The Norwalk coach also took solace in the fact that Woog thought his team played so well.
“That’s a huge complement, and means a lot to me when anyone, especially a coach as good as Dan, an exemplarily guy, talks about our team that way,” Laughton.
Norwalk took on Bassick Wednesday (after press time), and will be back in action Tuesday versus Danbury at 4 p.m.
© Norwalk Citizen-News