Norwalk opens season with a win
Muriel’s two goals pace Bears
By STEVE GEOGHEGAN
NORWALK — The Norwalk High boys soccer team’s offense came alive in the second half.
After playing Greenwich to a 1-1 tie in the first half, the Bears showed what they can do when they have opportunities to score as they netted two second-half goals en route to a 3-1 victory in the season opener on Tuesday night at Testa Field.
Santiago Muriel scored two goals and Kevin Joslyn had a tally to lead Norwalk in an earlyseason test against the alwaystough Cardinals.
“I thought they showed a lot of character,” Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said of his players. “They went down 1-0 but they didn’t panic. They believed in the way that we play and the style we play. They came out and put away our chances.”
Greenwich took a 1-0 lead just 5:02 into the game when Peter Zenner took the ball from the left side of the field, dribbled to the middle and buried a shot past NHS goalie Svet Kozak into the bottom left corner of the net. Kozak, who finished with eight saves, would hold the Cardinals off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
“I think 1-1 was a fair first-half result,” said Greenwich head coach Kurt Putnam, who was missing his two starting defenders due to an injury and a suspension from last year. “In the second half, they (Norwalk) showed their quality. They were good for a twogoal win.”
After missing on several chances, Norwalk tied the score at 1-1 in the 23rd minute. Nick Samperez played the ball to Muriel in the right corner. Muriel, who said he was going to cross the ball but when Greenwich goalie Emmett Clarke (five saves) came out to challenge, he chipped the ball far post, over Clarke and into the top left corner of the net.
“It’s a good tone (for the season),” said Muriel, who is one of the team’s captains. “We have to keep it up. There’s a lot of games to go so we want to be peaking at the end of the season.”
Norwalk came out strong in the second half as the Bears got their ball-control offense on track and had the Greenwich defense on its heels.
In the 46th minute, Matt Capomolla, who left the game later on with a broken finger, blasted a shot from the right wing. Clarke made the initial save but couldn’t secure the ball.
Muriel pounced on the rebound by drilling the ball into the back of the net to give Norwalk a 2-1 lead at 46:46.
“Santi looked great in preseason,” Laughton said. “He’s one of our leaders. We know he can turn it on at any point in time and he showed that tonight.”
Not looking to rest on their laurels, the Bears netted their third goal in the 50th minute.
Michal Nowicki gathered up the ball and passed it to Nacho Navarro, who flicked the ball up to Joslyn, who was one-on-one with Clarke. Joslyn, who scored 19 goals in 2011, finished yet again by booting the ball into the bottom right corner at 50:59.
From there, Norwalk’s defense stepped up and rarely gave an open look to the Cardinals.
“This is an ideal start,” Bears standout defender and captain Andrew Melitsanopoulos said. “We started off a little shaky in the first 10 minutes but we came back and a win against a quality opponent like this really sets the tone.”
© The Hour Newspaper 2012