Bears club Rams
By PAUL DEVLIN
NORWALK — It was Senior Night at Testa Field on Monday and Nick Zuniga gave the Norwalk faithful something to remember.
Playing in his final regular season home game for the Bears, Zuniga put on a brilliant athletic display, scoring a natural hat trick to help propel Norwalk to a 4-2 victory over New Canaan.
‘It was special, my senior night, my last senior night in high school, I’m really glad I got that hat trick,’ said Zuniga. ‘I dedicated it to (senior teammate) Chris Puente, who had heart surgery last week and couldn’t be here with us on this special night.’ Zuniga sure made it a special night to remember.
After Jon Luke Ferrandino scored a penalty kick to give New Canaan a 1-0 lead, Zuniga put on a jawdropping exhibition that showed off his natural talents while leaving the Rams in his wake.
With 31:27 to go in the first half, Zuniga took a chip pass from Erick Romero near the right side of the net and steered one past New Canaan goalie Steve Levene to tie the game at 1-1.
Just under five minutes later, Zuniga took a pass from Andrew Melitsanopoulous just inside the 18-yard box, faked out a few defenseman, then beat Levene with a low shot that gave the Bears a 2-1 advantage.
Zuniga put the exclamation point on his natural hat trick after being fed by Nacho Navarro near the left side of the box. He pooched the ball over the head of Levine giving the Bears a 3-1 lead and leaving the head coach of the Rams shaking his head in disbelief. ‘He’s a special player, he’s an amazing player,’ said New Canaan coach Victor Sanchez. ‘I didn’t want to man-mark him but we ended up doing that. He’s elusive, he’s dynamic and he’s hard to contain. It was fun to watch as a fan, but as a coach it was stressful.”
But New Canaan, which beat Norwalk (13-1-1) in the FCIAC playoffs a year ago, wouldn’t go away. Steve Valente slid one past Norwalk goalie Svet Kozak to cut the Bears lead down to 3-2 as the teams went to halftime.
At the 21:53 mark of the second half, Kevin Joslyn made it a two-goal game once again for Norwalk. He took a nice crossing pass from Romero and directed it past Levine with his head for a spectacular goal, giving the Bears a 4-2 lead that they would not relinquish.
For Joslyn, the game was more about Puente than the goal he scored.
‘I did this for him more than anybody,’ said Joslyn.’ It was very emotional just thinking about Chris. Whenever we got tired, we thought about him for inspiration.”
The win was Norwalk’s eighth straight and the Bears have been dominant during the streak, outscoring their opponents 35-7. But as they head to the playoffs, the Bears realize they are not yet a finished product.
‘There were some glitches where we played really well,’ said Norwalk coach Chris Laughton. ‘I thought we gave up two soft goals, but we can correct that. But when you score four goals on like, seven shots, that’s pretty good.’
© The Hour Newspaper.