Brien McMahon, Norwalk tie in boys soccer
By Bob Greeney
NORWALK — Considering the history of this traditional high school boys soccer intra-city rivalry — Brien McMahon against Norwalk — what else could one expect?
Though it technically is just another regular-season game on a 16-game schedule, when it comes to these two, it always seems much more than that.
It was no different last night at Norwalk High’s Sam Testa Field.
“It was typical,” said Norwalk coach Kurt Simonsen, who was a very good soccer player for McMahon in the late 1980s. “It is what it is. It’s always been this way as long as I played in it or as long as I’ve coached in it. It was exactly what we expected.”
The emotional intensity was there, as it usually is, and this year there was drama and a thrilling finish to match.
With an inexperienced Norwalk squad (1-0-1) very close to extending its winning streak over McMahon (0-1-1) to four, McMahon junior Jean-Paul Monsalvo scored with just 1:32 left in the game to give the Senators a 3-3 tie.
“We talked about what happened after we got beat by Wilton, about not having all the heart and determination we needed in that game all game,” McMahon coach Chris Bacco said. “What I demanded of them was that it was certainly a must in this game to play with heart and determination for the full 80 minutes.
“We got everything we wanted out of this game except for the win. I’m very pleased with what we did. And give (Norwalk) a lot of credit too. I knew, despite all of their losses to graduation, that they’re still a good team.”
Victor Cuba scored two goals within 2:44 of each other early in the second half to rally the Senators back from a 2-0 deficit.
Mike Fraioli and Anthony Fraioli, who were excellent all night with their hustle and creativity, each scored a goal to stake Norwalk to a 2-0 halftime lead.
Norwalk’s Bears had strong offensive flow in the first half, utilizing good spacing to open up passing lanes and set up attacks.
Ronald Machado gave Norwalk its 3-2 lead just 70 seconds after Cuba’s second goal tied it for McMahon.
Harry O’Campo got his second assist on Machado’s goal.
Norwalk had an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks and Anthony Fraioli sent one of them to O’Campo’s head. O’Campo headed it toward Machado, who was in the center, 12 yards out.
Machado blasted a shot that hit the underside of the crossbar, bounced straight down and just inside the goal stripe to give the Bears their 3-2 lead at 52:46.
The game was intense and physical, but clean, for most of the first 70 minutes as the referees distributed yellow cards evenly to keep it that way.
Then it got a little more rough for the final 10 minutes as McMahon battled for the tie while Norwalk fought to protect its lead.
Dominique Smith nearly tied it for the Senators when he broke through on the right side and fired a low liner off of the near post.
Smith played a big part in the tying goal with some slick ballhandling and dodging while penetrating down the middle from midfield.
He meandered his way through a few Bears while somehow retaining possession of the ball to get to the 30-yard line. While another Bear came after him, Monsalvo found some open space on the right side about 18 yards away. Smith distributed it to him and Monsalvo finished it off.
“I knew I had a chance,” Monsalvo said. “I was just waiting for the chance to come up and it did. It was all on Dominique. I just made the goal.”
“I was just dribbling up, three guys came on top of me and I just kept fighting my way in there,” Smith said. “I was thinking (Monsalvo) had a better opportunity for a shot because another Norwalk guy was on me. So instead of being greedy I just gave it to him.”
That was just the final thrill of many in this showdown.
McMahon goalie Taso Petridis (10 saves) and Norwalk’s Michael Surace (six saves) each came up with some excellent saves.
Surace made a great save a couple seconds after McMahon could not convert its first penalty kick.
Surace guessed wrong in diving to his left as McMahon’s John Papachristou went to the opposite side with his kick. Papachristou blasted it off the middle of the left post, it caromed directly back to the center, Smith got off a rebound shot and Surace got back to the middle to make a superb diving save.
That kept the game scoreless and changed the complexion of it in that the Senators inevitably got into the mode where they were continually battling back.
John Kahlden made a sweet lead pass up the middle to send Mike Fraioli in for the first goal at 24:19.
Simonsen praised Kahlden, O’Campo, Machado and the Fraiolis for their stellar two-way games.
Norwalk finished with a 16-10 advantage in shots.
Copyright (c) 2005, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.