Norwalk beats Bassick with Barrantes hat trick
By BOB BIRGE
NORWALK — According to Norwalk boys soccer coach Chris Laughton, Patrick Barrantes has improved dramatically from last year.
The forward began his senior season in spectacular fashion Tuesday, recording three goals and an assist to lead the Bears to a 5-2 victory over Bassick at Testa Field.
“He’s a completely different player than last season,” Laughton said. “He’s a lot more aggressive offensively. I think that showed today. He’s a very good finisher, so I think he can have a great year this year if he stays on track.”
Barrantes tallied his three goals in the first 32 minutes and had a few chances to add a fourth goal.
In one game, he equalled 50 percent of his entire total of six last season.
Despite Barrantes’ exploits, however, the Bears were unhappy with their overall performance.
They were disappointed to allow the two goals — both by Tavoy Morgan — and not capitalize on more of their opportunities.
Norwalk built a 3-1 halftime lead and extended it to 5-1 eight minutes into the second half, but it could have been a lot worse
“We didn’t play as a good as we thought we were going to,” Barrantes said. “We played way better in the preseason. We scored goals, but we had more chances we could have finished.”
With Tyler Dalton out for the season due to a back injury, junior Tito Aponte got the start in goal for Norwalk and recorded five saves before being pulled early in the second half.
Sophomore Nick Ceja took over and made two stops, including a save on a penalty kick. Aponte and Ceja each allowed a goal.
After Norwalk made it 5-1, Laughton pulled his starters, but the Lions didn’t go quietly.
Morgan scored his second goal with 13:45 remaining and things got a bit interesting when Raybon Carwin was tripped in the box a minute later.
Ceja punched out Carwin’s penalty kick to keep the margin at three goals, but Laughton still put his starters back into the game.
“I thought we played well in preseason, (but) I don’t think we played well at all today,” he said. “We missed a lot of opportunities, we didn’t defend well and overall we just have to be a lot more clean with our passing.”
Barrantes converted a feed from Miguel Argueta with a low shot inside the left post with 29:10 left in the first half, then headed in a cross from Santiago Mesa to make it 2-0 with 21:59 remaining.
The Lions stunned the Bears when Morgan got free in front and headed home a cross by Carwin at the 14:10 mark.
Aponte made a diving attempt to stop the shot, but the ball deflected through his hands into the back of the net.
Barrantes completed his hat trick with 8:34 left in the half when he headed in a cross into the box from Jose Canahui on a set piece.
“There’s a lot of things to improve, like finishing the chances that we get, making the right crosses,” Barrantes said. “I’m feeling happy about the goals and the assist I made, but there’s more stuff we have to work on.”
Barrantes assisted on Mesa’s goal 3 1/2 minutes into the second half before Argueta completing the scoring on a goal-mouth scramble with 32:18 to play.
Mesa and Argueta each had a goal and an assist.
Unlike like season, when the Bears finished 7-8-3 in a rebuilding year, the expectations are high to get the program back to being legitimate FCIAC and state championship contenders.
That’s why Laughton is looking for more consistent efforts.
“These guys have more experience this year than they did last year, so there’s really no excuse why we can’t step up and play in these environments,” Laughton said.
Norwalk is back in action on Thursday at New Canaan (4 p.m.).