NORWALK—Norwalk’s Michael Hidalgo is not accustomed to taking corner kicks from the left side but with the player who normally takes those kicks out with an injury, it fell to Hidalgo.
Anyone watching Hidalgo taking the corner would have no idea it was not his forte as the junior sent in a near perfect ball which Lucas Araujo headed into the back of the net.
The goal gave Norwalk a two-point cushion, which it would need as Warde rallied for a late second-half goal but could not get the equalizer.
Araujo’s goal proved to be the game winner as No. 20 Norwalk knocked off No. 29 Warde 2-1 in the second round of the CIAC Class LL tournament.
“It feels great going to the quarters,” Hidalgo said. “I wasn’t expecting that play because I am not normally the corner-kick taker. The coach told me to take it and I was ready for it. On that set piece, we try to play a certain spot and right in front the six. I tried to hit it there and (Araujo) was there to put it in.”
Norwalk will face the winner of No. 21 Staples at No. 5 Ridgefield, being played later Wednesday evening, in the quarterfinals.
Norwalk controlled more of the pay in the first half, grabbing a 1-0 lead with 20:03 left in the half when Hidalgo got to a rebound near the top of the 18, firing a low-hard shot and making it 1-0 Bears.
Warde would up the pressure in the second half but could not get even with a goal.
Going against the flow of play in the second half, Araujo’s goal put Norwalk up 2-0 with 9:39 remaining.
Warde would tally on a firecracker of a shot from Anthony Zarlenga from 30 yards out, making it 2-1 with 4:10 left.
Warde would not get another quality scoring chance the rest of the way but kept grinding to the end.
“It was inspirational how we played in the second half,” Warde coach Justin Ottavio said. “It was a commitment to inspiring one and other and that was clear over the last 40 minutes. We would not have beaten Newtown without that passion and leadership and I am proud of them. Their character, their resiliency, their willingness to work for one and other hopefully will establish a legacy the other guys will follow.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Michael Hidalgo, Norwalk. Hidalgo was in on both Norwalk goals, scoring one and assisting on another.
“Second half they were not going away easy and made it difficult, give them credit,” Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said. “Getting that second goal gave us a nice cushion but we need to do a better job closing out games. They scored and then we were holding on by a thread the last four minutes. I thought first half we played better but we need to play that way for 80 minutes moving forward.”
Norwalk talked in the FCIAC tournament about getting back at teams that beat them and it will get another shot to do that in the quarterfinals as both Ridgefield and Staples defeated the Bears 1-0 in the regular season.