Bears stop Wave
By JOHN NASH
Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK – The world of soccer is full of one-name wonders.
Pele. Ronaldo. Kaka.
The Norwalk High boys soccer team has one, as well. Call him, Melitsanopoulous.
OK, so his given name is Andrew, but it was more than his last name that got him noticed on Monday night at Testa Field when the from the upstart Darien Blue Wave showed up to face the Bears in an FCIAC showdown.
Melitsanopoulos spearheaded a solid defensive attack, helping his mates in the back put up their fourth clean sheet of the season with a 5-0 rout of the Wave.
It was Norwalk’s sixth straight win as the Bears moved to 10-1-1 on the season.
Joined by fellow defenders Paul Soja in the middle and Santiago Muriel and Alejandro Rivera on the wings, Melitsanopoulos and the Bears defense limited Darien to just seven shots.
“Our offense is playing well, there’s no doubt about that, but if we know if we don’t concede any goals, we’re going to win games, too,” said Melitsanopoulos, a junior center back who is the anchor of Norwalk’s new 4-3-3 formation. “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.”
Against the 9-2-2 Blue Wave, the Bears certainly looked like a championship team.
“When you’ve won five games in two years, you can’t really be upset at being spanked like that,” said Darien head coach Jon Bradley. “All credit to them. They outplayed us. They dominated us all over the field. I just thought Norwalk was very, very good today.”
The scary part is Norwalk’s fifth-year head coach Chris Laughton feels his team can play even better.
“I really think we can play better,” Laughton said. “I thought we played well tonight. Defensively, we were very solid. We didn’t give up many chances. They did a great job.”
With the Bears defense clamping down on the Wave, Norwalk’s offense had a field day – literally and figuratively owning every spot on the field.
Less than six minutes into the game, Melitsanopoulos booted a long ball right up the middle of the pitch.
Senior forward Kevin Joslyn outran the Wave defense, picking up the ball on the running and finishing the breakaway for a 1-0 lead.
“I’m not going to say I meant to do that, but it went right to him and he put it away,” said Melitsanopoulos.
Nearly 10 minutes later, Joslyn found himself on the receiving end of another great pass – though this one was well-planned. Ignacio “Nacho” Navarro put on a variety of moves to get past a bevy of Blue Wave defenders, making the goalkeeper commit before he slid a pass across the box for Joslyn to tap home to make it 2-0.
Joslyn later set up a Nick Zuniga goal with 4:41 left in the first half and Bears kept pressuring after that to score for a fourth time. Zuniga carried the ball through the middle of the field before dumping a pass off to Chris Miklave on the wing. Just as Navarro had done earlier, only with a much flatter angle to the goal, Miklave dribbled in, forcing the Wave keeper to commit.
Again Joslyn was wide open, burying the ball for his first career hat trick and putting the Bears up 4-0 at the break. “Today was just one of those days. It was great,” Joslyn said. “We’re trying to get more consistent and it’s happening. That’s a tough team to beat, but everything was going so well for us today.”
Norwalk created a few more scoring opportunities in the second half, but it was the Bears prettiest opportunity which actually led to a goal.
Nicolas Samperez had come off the bench to take up a position on the right wing and he sent a perfect ball to the far post, where Matt Capomolla ran onto the pass and drilled into the mesh for the final tally of the game.
“The kids are really starting to get the system of play we’re trying to instill,” Laughton said. “They’re looking to knock the ball around and they’re being so unselfish. As a coach, it’s great to see them putting it to use. It’s a good win, but at the same time, the season isn’t over and we’re looking forward to bigger things.”
The Bears make two trips to Fairfield this week, facing Warde on Wednesday and Ludlowe on Friday.
© The Hour Newspaper.