Norwalk defeats Harding
By STEVE GEOGHEGAN
Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK — Looking at the Norwalk High boys soccer team’s victory over Harding and one would think it was convincing win.
The Bears did prevail by a 4-1 margin on Tuesday with junior Patrick Barrantes leading the way with two goals. But that’s not how head coach Chris Laughton, or members of the team as a matter of fact, saw it.
“We scored some really nice goals and I was happy with the goals we scored,” Laughton said. “I was definitely disappointed in the effort we put forward. We should’ve came out with a lot more intensity and play the way that we know how to play and the way that we train. We didn’t necessarily do that for 80 minutes.”
Laughton added that it may have been a letdown following Norwalk’s hard-fought 1-0 victory over Brien McMahon last Friday.
“There’s no excuse for it but they definitely learned their lesson,” he said.
Norwalk (5-5-3) won the majority of possession in the first half and stymied Harding’s advances at the goal. The Bears put a great deal of pressure on the Presidents’ defense and their persistence staked them to a 3-0 halftime lead.
Barrantes put the team ahead 1-0 when he took a through ball from junior Bill Chirinos on the left wing and blasted a shot to the right post past goalie Morrice Baker, who came out to challenge, and into the bottom right corner of the net 2:31 into the game.
“We have to work a little more (on offense),” Barrantes said. “We had way more chances that we didn’t finish. We have to work harder.”
The Bears kept the ball in Harding’s end of the field most of the first half and at times, they passed the ball effectively, especially on their second goal.
Jose Canahui came down the field and passed off to Barrantes, who found Rene Jimenez on the right wing. Jimenez crossed the ball to senior Jon Ceja, who finished with a shot into the bottom right corner of the net at 18:25.
“It was a beautiful play,” said Ceja, a midfielder/forward who has three goals this season. “I have to give it to Rene, it was all him. I did the easy part and he did the hard part. All I had to do was tap it in.
“After a great win against McMahon, our feelings were really high,” Ceja added. “When you play a team like this, it’s not at the competition you want it to be. That’s no excuse at all. We wanted to carry over the momentum from the McMahon game into this game but we didn’t. There’s definitely room for improvement.”
With 7:50 left in the first half, Barrantes netted his second goal of the game. He got the ball in the middle of the field and Baker came out of the goal to stop the shot but didn’t wrap it up. Barrantes stayed with it and booted the ball into the bottom right corner for the score.
The Presidents (3-10-1), who upset Staples and Westhill earlier this season but have lost several key players along the way, could only muster one shot on goal in the first half.
“Norwalk has a great team all-around, offensively and defensively,” Harding’s first-year head coach Anthony Bonaventura said. “They communicate well as a team and, basically, they just shut us down with their defense.”
The second half was more of the same from the Bears and their pressure yielded another goal 6:07 in, this time via a set piece.
Barrantes took a corner kick from the left side of the field and his kick was headed in the box by senior Robert Gryglewski. A Harding defender hit the ball back to Gryglewski, who buried a shot into the bottom right corner for a 4-0 lead.
It was Gryglewski’s first career goal in a Norwalk uniform, according to Laughton, and the coach also praised the play of Barrantes and Jimenez.
Erick Munguia netted the lone goal for Harding off an assist from Ocasio Brown with 8:49 remaining in the contest.
The Bears had the edge in shots on goal (13-6) and corner kicks (6-0) and keepers Tyler Dalton and Tito Aponte combined for five saves while Baker had nine stops.
Norwalk has three more games (Bassick, Darien and Fairfield Ludlowe) remaining on the schedule so the Bears might need to win out, and get some help, in order to qualify for the FCIAC playoffs.
“If we can finish out the season the way that I would hope, we’ll definitely give ourselves a shot to get in as a possible No. 8 seed,” he said of the conference playoffs. “We just have to control what we can control.”
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