Norwalk blanks McMahon
By JOHN NASH
NORWALK – Andrew Melitsanopoulos and his fellow Norwalk boys soccer defensive players already had plenty of impetus to pick up their form after giving up seven goals in their last two game.
The fact that cross-city rival Brien McMahon was next on the schedule just added fuel to their fire.
The Norwalk backfield gave up just three shots on goal and junior keeper only needed to make one save as Norwalk blanked the Senators by a 4-0 count in front of a raucous Testa Field crowd on Monday night.
“We made this our field tonight,” said Melitsanopolous, who joined forces with Paul Soja, Carlos Teysseire and Jose Canahui in clamping down on the Senators offense. “Today, we just stayed focused on staying tight, and winning the 50-50s was a major part of that. We won every header we could, every tackle we could. This was a great effort.”
Despite controlling play and dominating possession in the first half, the Bears could only manage a 1-0 lead when Nicolas Samperez took a pass from Michal Nowicki, then took a shot that took a high-arcing deflection over the head of Brien McMahon goalkeeper Roberto Vargos and snuck just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
In the final minute of play, it appeared as though the Bears scored on a corner kick, but a foul was called against Melitsanopolous for some minor contact in the box and the half ended with Norwalk holding on to a one-goal edge.
McMahon couldn’t get anything going against the Norwalk defense, so rookie head coach Ben Ingalls opted to tweak his formation a bit in hopes of getting his team into a more attacking-minded mode.
The move proved costly, though.
While the Senators defense limited Norwalk from making their patented runs on goal in the first half, the adjustment opened up some holes in the defense and the Bears took advantage.
Ninety seconds into the second half, Nacho Navarro slid a through ball to Santiago Muriel, who carried it to the right of the box, stepped around Vargos as he came out to defend, and fired the ball into the empty net to make it 2-0.
Five minutes later, Matt Capomolla made a run and it was Muriel who found the crease and made the pass leading to the goal that made it 3-0.
Five minutes and change after that, Navarro and Muriel joined forces one more time, pushing the lead to 4-0 as Muriel finished for his second goal.
“I was playing center forward and the first goal was just a phenomenal through ball from Nacho. The goalie came out and I just slid the ball past him and it went in,” said Muriel. ” The second one was just a one-two and I kept going. The center back thought I was going to give it back to Nacho, but I faked it and carried it through.”
Ingalls said his team just didn’t have any answers to slow the Bears down.
“We let them play their game,” he said. “We weren’t aggressive enough. We didn’t play as well as we should have against a team of that caliber. We did switch formations a bit because in the first half we didn’t have any attack and that switch might have worked against us.”
Norwalk had a second goal disallowed when Navarro broke in alone and lambasted a shot that Vargas deflected up into the bottom of the crossbar. The ball came down and appeared to land in the goal and the Senators keeper also appeared to reach into the goal to pull it out.
The line judge on the far end of the field was looking at the goal at an angle and ruled it no goal. “It was a goal,” Navarro said to teammates as he came off the field.
For the Bears, who moved to 9-1, head coach Chris Laughton was happy to see the team which opened the season with a seven-game win streak – especially considering leading scorer Kevin Joslyn was sitting his second straight game for receiving a red card against Wilton and three yellow cards on the season.
“We hadn’t played our game the last few games,” Laughton said. “We had gotten away from what we preach every day. I was pleased to see what we did today with the big crowd, with McMahon and the ambiance of it. There was so many guys who stepped up.” McMahon, now 2-5-1, travels to Westhill on Wednesday while Norwalk travels to Bridgeport to face Harding. Melitsanopolous will have to sit out that game after picking up his third yellow of the season.
© The Hour Newspaper