Torres goal lifts Bears
Norwalk hands Staples its first loss of the season
By TOM EVANS
WESTPORT — The Norwalk High boys soccer team scored the first goal Staples has allowed this season, then rode its momentum to a 1-0 victory Thursday afternoon at Albie Loeffler Field.
Sophomore forward Andres Torres scored off an assist from freshman midfielder Chris Puente with 26:33 remaining in the game. The defense for Norwalk (6-2 overall, 6-2 FCIAC) withstood some furious Staples attacks during the rest of that half to preserve the win.
Staples, which had outscored its first seven opponents 29-0, fell to 7-1 overall and in the FCIAC.
“That was the longest 26 minutes of my life,” Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said. “To win this game, these kids were resilient and showed a lot of character. We’re all about team, and this team proved it can play with anyone in this league.”
For the first 54 minutes, with two smothering defenses and two standout goalkeepers, this game seemed destined for a 0-0 draw.
Junior sweeper Tyler Collins, seniors Rob Geitz and Tommy Garcia, and junior Mike Lepoutre manned the sturdy backline for Norwalk. Senior Frankie Rende and sophomore Frankie Bergonzi joined junior sweeper Jack Hennessy on the Staples defense.
“Tyler, Tommy, Rob and Mike were well- organized against a great Staples team,” Laughton said. “A shutout on this field is saying a lot. Our back four has come a long way, and they get better every day.”
Staples junior midfielder Alan Reiter had one of the earliest scoring chances, launching a blast from wide on the left side about 22 minutes into the first half.
Norwalk junior goalkeeper Alex Hurd (seven saves) timed his leap to the juncture of the right post and crossbar perfectly, tipping the ball out of harm’s way.
Staples senior goalkeeper Adam Liu (eight saves) got his first chances more than five minutes later. Liu denied sophomore midfielder Jake Zuniga on a free kick from the left wing, then stopped junior midfielder Willy Arbieto from almost the same spot 22 seconds later.
“Norwalk earned it, this is what high school soccer is all about,” Staples head coach Dan Woog said. “They deserve the elation, the joy. This was a game between two good young teams, and we hope to see them again. The did exactly what we expected. They tested us, and this was just we needed right now.”
Liu made one more save against Torres with two minutes to go in the first half, to send the teams to halftime deadlocked 0-0. After a Liu save 1:25 into the second half, Staples began to flex its offensive muscle. In a span of less than four minutes, Hurd stopped a shot by senior midfielder Nick Kljusev, watched Reiter’s blast sail over the net, then made a save on a header by senior midfielder Alex Hoberman off a corner kick.
“This definitely feels good, we’ve worked hard all season to get a win like this,” Collins said. “We won against them last year (on Sam Testa Field), and it took about 10 minutes to get used to the grass. The ball moved a lot slower on grass, but we kept working. We work hard to defend as a team and get shutouts.”
Senior midfielder Matt Surace and Lepoutre used a nice give-and-go to produce a shot by Lepoutre from 25 yards that Liu grabbed and tried to clear.
Puente used his quickness to break up the transition near midfield, then pushed the ball down the right sideline. Running with Puente on an inside lane, Torres received the ball near the edge of the box, cut to the crease, and slid a shot under the diving Liu to give the Bears a 1-0 lead at 26:33. “We all passed the ball well together,” Torres said. “We were working hard all game, and Chris got me the ball where I could make a play. This feels great. We’re the second team from Norwalk to beat Staples on this field.” Laughton liked what he saw from his youthful scoring duo.
“We counter-attacked, and we had a nice combination with Chris and Andres,” Laughton said. “Andres is so fast, he’s tough to stop in the open field.” Reiter whistled a shot past the far post at 18:30, and Hurd stoned White from point-blank range 35 seconds later.
Two Staples corner kicks yielded a Bergonzi header over the cage and a breakout rush by Collins and Torres. Liu was equal to a closerange shot from Torres with 13 minutes left.
A minute later Hurd again went high to punch out a 45-yard rocket from junior midfielder Matteo Marzoli, and Garcia blocked White’s header following a free kick from deep on the left side with three minutes to play.
The Hour Newspaper – 10/3/08