Greenwich boys soccer team strikes early in win over Norwalk
By David Fierro
GREENWICH — Much to his delight, Greenwich High School boys soccer coach Kurt Putnam gave a brief speech to his team after the first half of Monday’s game against Norwalk.
“My halftime talk stopped with four minutes left, it’s not often I have nothing left to say,” Putnam said. “A lot of times I talk right up until the buzzer goes off.”
Since the Cardinals got off to exactly the type of start they were hoping for, Putnam didn’t need to spend much time telling his squad what they could improve upon in the second half.
Intent on applying pressure from the outset, Greenwich set the tone quickly, scoring twice in the first 5 minutes, 30 seconds in its convincing 3-0 victory over Norwalk in a key early season FCIAC matchup at Cardinal Stadium.
“I told them at halftime, everything we have been working on in practice they brought into the game,” Putnam said. “We started off quickly, which was nice because the first two games we meandered into each game and made it hard on ourselves.”
With their second clean sheet in three games, Greenwich improved to 3-0. Norwalk, which graduated a good portion of last seasons’ squad that advanced to the FCIAC finals, is 1-2.
“Greenwich is a great team,” Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said. “I would be shocked if anyone can beat them this year. They are big, strong, fast and skilled. I don’t see anyone beating them.”
Senior midfielder Mateo Gowland scored the only goal the Cardinals needed on this night 4:03 into the first half. Sebi Hickman sent a crossing pass to Gowland, who put a header over the head of Bears sophomore goalie Tyler Dalton into the top right corner of the goal, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
“I would say this is our best performance so far,” said Gowland, a senior co-captain. “Both halves everyone was working hard.”
Just 1:27 later the Cards struck again. This time, senior Ryan Flippin converted a header, making it a 2-0 game.
“We’ve been working hard on pressing,” Putnam said. “We were not getting enough bodies around the ball the first two games and not winning the ball back enough. Today, we got a lot of bodies around the ball, which takes commitment and aggression and that was the difference.”
Senior forward Patrick Santini put Norwalk in a 3-0 hole, booting a shot from 10 yards out inside the right post in the 31st minute.
“We were getting two guys to the ball every time, which was key,” said Santini, who was set up nicely by Chris Galeano on his goal. “We wanted to keep our foot on the gas pedal in the second half and not let up. I think the defense deserves a lot of credit — we score the goals, but they put the zeros up.”
Senior co-captain Jonathan Palmer, who effectively cleared the ball on Norwalk’s first corner kick of the game in the second minute, Flippin and midfielder Will Gittings helped lead Greenwich’s defensive effort. GHS goalie Santiago Irigoyen, a senior, made six saves in goal, before giving way to Kurt Vogt late in the second half.
Laughton was pleased with his team’s second-half performance, as Jose Canahui, George Kutrubis and Alex Escalante worked hard to create scoring chances.
“We tried to play the way we normally play, which is keeping the ball and creating opportunities,” Laughton said. “This is a totally different team from last year with a lot of younger players. I am positive that as the season goes on we will get better and hopefully hit our stride at the end of the year.”
Greenwich, which continued to exhibit solid ball movement in the second half while substituting freely, will host Wilton Wednesday at 5 p.m.
“I’m very confident in this team,” Gowland said. “We’ve been working hard and we just have to keep doing what we did today.”
NORWALK 0 0 — 0
GREENWICH 3 0 –3
Records: Greenwich 3-0; Norwalk 1-2
Goals: G — Mateo Gowland, Ryan Flippin, Patrick Santini; Assists: G — Mateo Gowland, Will Gittings, Chris Galeano. Goalies: N — Tyler Dalton (12 saves); G — Santiago Irigoyen (6 saves), Kurt Vogt (1 save).
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