Wreckers knock off Bears
By JOHN NASH
Hour Staff Writer
WESTPORT — The Staples Wreckers aren’t about to give up their title as the area’s best boys soccer team … at least not anytime soon.
Coach Doug Woog’s squad played host to an undefeated Norwalk team that was ranked No. 1 in the state on Friday afternoon.
Through 90 minutes of wind-swept, rain-pelting action, it was the Wreckers who eked out a 1-0 win in a game that was moved from the natural grass of Albie Loeffler Field to the artificial turf field known as Wakeman B — the first time since the Wreckers pitch was built in 1958 that a home game was played away from Loeffler.
The two teams could have played on a stretch of the Boston Post Road on the Norwalk-Westport line and it wouldn’t have mattered.
Both teams had plenty to prove.
“Who’s No. 1 now?” Staples midfielder Greg Gudis chided the Bears as he walked off the field with two No. 1 signs pointing skyward.
Max Hoberman drilled a long Mike Scott throw-in to the low left hand corner of the net, past the dive of Norwalk goalkeeper Svet Kozak, giving Staples a 1-0 lead just 2:40 into the second half.
“Mikey Scott — it was just a big throw-in,” said Hoberman. “When he comes to my side of the field (for a throw-in), I just go to the far post and I waited for the ball. I took one touch and just fired off a shot.”
Scott wisely had given a Staples ball boy a towel, so every time the ball went out of bounds, he was able to get a dry ball back to throw in.
“Having Mike on those throw- ins is huge,” said Woog.
From there, Norwalk’s quest to answer wasn’t just tempered by a defensive-minded wall of Wreckers, but also high winds which swept across the Wakeman landscape.
“I’m not making any excuses,” said Norwalk boys soccer coach Chris Laughton. “But with the wind it did slow up how we like to play, especially up top. But, at the end of the day, they beat us and we can only hope we get the chance to play them again.”
Norwalk won the coin flip and played the first half with the wind behind its back, creating some control for the Bears as Andres Torres, Chris Puente and Jake Zuniga all got shots off from within range.
Staples had shifted its defense slightly from past games in order to match up better with the Bears.
“We thought if we could disrupt their rhythm and not
let them get their counters, we’d be OK,” said Woog. ” We brought Brendan Lesch back a bit and Ben Root made his first start and he showed what he could do.”
With Sean Gallagher, Frankie Bergonzi and Jake Malowitz also watching the ball, the Bears were unable to find a goal in the first half.
The closest Staples came to scoring in the first half was when a throw-in by Scott was headed toward the goalmouth by Lesch, coming within inches of the foot of Wreckers teammate Jake Krosse, who despite being tightly marked, raced to the goal and slid feet first in hope of redirecting the pass.
In the second half, with the wind behind the Wreckers back, Norwalk’s opportunities were fewer and farther between as Staples controlled play.
“This was a big win,” said Lesch. “Norwalk’s a great team and they’ve always played us hard and they’ve been a roll lately, tearing teams up. It was tough conditions with the wind, but we wanted to shut them out. That was our first goal. This is a great momentum changer for us. After a slow start, we’ve won three in a row and now we’re rolling a bit again.”
As far as Woog was concerned, the win was just one more step to where he wants to get his Wreckers.
“If the FCIAC playoffs started today, we wouldn’t be in it,” said Woog, whose team improved to 4-2. “So this is just one more step forward.”
Norwalk, meanwhile, slipped to 6-1, but at least got the opportunity to play in a high-pressure game, according to Laughton.
“We knew Staples was going to be tough. They always are, no matter who they’ve lost to before,” said Laughton. “Maybe the pressure got to our kids a bit. Being 6-0, No. 1 in the state — these are things these kids have never experienced before. We’ll learn from it and get better.”
Staples fired off seven shots on goal while Norwalk managed five.
Both goalkeepers were credited with two saves.
© 2010 The Hour Newspaper.