Great start for Norwalk
By STEVE GEOGHEGAN
Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK — The Norwalk High boys soccer team couldn’t have started off its season any better.
The Bears scored all of their goals off set pieces and their defense thoroughly shut down Westhill en route to a seasonopening 3-0 victory over the Vikings Tuesday night at Testa Field. Andres Torres, Jake Zuniga and Chris Puente each found the back of the net and freshman Svet Kozak, making his first start in goal in place of the injured Jake Ross, recorded the shutout and made five saves.
“We did a pretty good job,” Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said. “Our back four did a good job shutting down two good forwards (Christian Esquivel and Mateo Gallego) tonight and Svet did another phenomenal job, being a freshman and stepping in there, being calm and doing what he needed to do to insure that shutout.”
And scoring three goals, two off free kicks and another off a corner kick, was a welcome sight to Laughton.
“It’s good to see we’re getting goals from different guys and scoring off set pieces, which is something we didn’t do much last year,” Laughton said.
Both teams made runs at the goals to no avail early in the first half. The Vikings took several long-range shots which sailed over the crossbar in the first, a trend that would continue throughout the game.
Neither team could get on track through 35-plus minutes of back-andforth play. In the 24th minute, Norwalk picked up its play and put pressure on the Westhill defense.
The Bears took four consecutive corner kicks yet none yielded any positive results. Then they were awarded a free kick just inside the penalty area, off to the right, and cashed it in.
Torres faked taking the kick and Puente booted the ball to Zuniga in the middle. Zuniga found Torres open on the right and he blasted a shot to the far post, into the right-hand corner of the net past goalie Ian Huntoon to give Norwalk a lead it wouldn’t relinquish at 26:55.
“It was a really nice play and something we’ve been practicing over and over,” Torres said. “I got the ball played in to me by Jake and thank God it went into the back of the net.
“This feels really good to get the first win, especially against a team like them,” he added.
The score remained 1-0 at the end of the half and not much changed in the second half, except Norwalk scoring two more goals.
The Bears kept the pressure on Huntoon (six saves) and they were rewarded for their efforts with another goal 10 minutes into the second half.
Mike Broncati took the corner kick on the right side of the field and he hit it perfectly into the middle, where Zuniga was stationed. Zuniga headed the ball into the top left corner of the net near post to put Norwalk on top 2-0 at 50:16. “Mikey hit a great ball in off the corner and I was lucky enough to out-jump my defender and get a head on it,” Zuniga said.
About three minutes later, Norwalk scored its final goal when Chris Puente’s free kick from close to 30 yards out on the left sideline landed into the left corner of the net at 53:56.
The Westhill attack was held in check all night, thanks to a strong defensive effort by the Bears.
“We changed up the way we’ve been defending this year and it’s starting to pay off,” Laughton said. “We’re a little more patient and we’re not jumping in and allowing them to come to us and once we win that ball, we’re counterattacking.”
Norwalk’s Spencer Jacoby also made some nice runs at the goal in the second half, nearly scoring a few times, and one of shots hit off the post.
Laughton also praised the play of center backs Chris Jeffrey and Nic Zuniga, who keep everyone organized, and Danny Quintero and Erick Romero, who were able to step in and timed their runs. The coach added that his team wasn’t perfect but he’ll certainly take the final results.
“I’m confident we’ll get more goals from the run of play rather than set pieces,” he said. “I’ll take a goal, I’ll take a win any way we can get it.”
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