Norwalk settles for tie with Central
Colin Prescott’s header off the post nearly gave the Bears a dramatic FCIAC victory over the Hilltoppers.
By MIKE MADAR
NORWALK — Colin Prescott sent a header off the post as time expired as Norwalk and Bridgeport Central played to a wild 2-2 tie in boys soccer action Thursday at Kennedy Stadium.
With about 12 seconds remaining, the ball went out of bounds off a Central defender. With the clock continuing to run down, Norwalk chased after the ball, placed it in the corner and sent a cross to Prescott who drilled a header into the post as the horn sounded.
For a brief moment each team looked around in disbelief.
“My heart dropped,” Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said of the near game-winner. “I’m glad I wasn’t on the other side, I think I would have had a heart attack.”
For the game Norwalk outshot Central 19-6 (13-3 in the second half) but crossbars, posts and overall bad luck kept the game at a draw.
“It was wild. We just didn’t give up,” Laughton said of the game and his team’s effort. “Even though we couldn’t seem to find a way to finish, we kept playing.” Norwalk improved to 2-3-1 overall and in the FCIAC, while Central is 4-2-1 in the conference and on the season.
Sophomore Willy Arbieto and senior Manny Arteaga had a goal apiece for the Bears. Ferguerson Larose scored both goals for Central.
As usual, home field was a huge advantage for the Hilltoppers.
“It’s tough,” Laughton said of playing on the hard, old-style turf. “We played Harding on grass Tuesday and our field gives the ball a little softer bounce. On this the ball just runs faster.”
Throughout the game Central took advantage of the turf and challenged Norwalk with an aggressive offsides trap that it worked to near-perfection. The Bears were offside 12 times in the contest causing frustration among the strikers and midfielders, not to mention the coaches.
“We were offside way too much,” Laughton said. “The only way to simulate playing on this surface is playing on concrete.” Central got on the board first when Larose took the ball in space, beat a defender and scored 10:35 into the game.
With 8:49 to play in the first half, Ronald Machado sent in a corner kick from the left side that found Arbieto at the near post. Arbieto somehow got a foot on the ball and beat Central goalkeeper Renardo Dixon to tie the game at 1-1.
After nearly scoring on a pair of chances early in the second half, including a Machado shot off the crossbar, Norwalk took its only lead of the game.
On the goal, Artega beat a Central defender to a long ball over the Hilltoppers defense, tapping it past the charging Dixon and into the back of the net 8:41 into the second half.
Just 1:20 later, Osly Garcia sent as pass across the box to a wide open Larose for easy goal to tie the score.
With 10:49 to play Larose, who was waiting by the far post, thought he had scored again on a ball that found its way through the box.
After originally awarding a goal, the referee quickly realized Larose, who was at least five yards past the last defender, was offside.
For 80 minutes, the two teams battled in what was a physical and spirited contest.
“(Central) is a good, tough team,” Laughton said. “I give them a lot of credit. They played hard and aggressive.” With five sophomores and freshman playing significant minutes Thursday, Laughton is happy with the progress his young team has made thus far.
“Our young guys are starting to step up,” Laughton said. “Mix them with our seniors and I think our leadership and team is better.”
Norwalk returns to action Tuesday night when it hosts cross-town rival Brien McMahon at 7:30 p.m. on Sam Testa Field.
© 2007 The Hour Newspaper.