1961: THE FIRST FCIAC CHAMPIONSHIP
• Grif Foxley scores consistently, and Mike Dill shines in goal as the Wreckers cruise to a 10-1 mark. The final match pits them against 11-0 Greenwich, the only team to have beaten them. Staples wins, forcing a playoff to determine the Western Division champion (for the right to play in the first ever Fairfield County playoff game). The playoff ends 2-2 – so another Staples-Greenwich game is held two days later. This time the Wreckers win another thriller, on Jerry Keneally’s corner kick with three minutes remaining.
• Staples and Brien McMahon tie 1-1 – the first of many memorable county championship encounters, and titles.
• The second-ranked Wreckers beat Conard 1-0, on Tim Pinkham’s goal and Mike Dill’s penalty kick save with 1:45 remaining. It is Staples’ first-ever state tournament win. In the next game, the semifinals against – who else? – Greenwich, at Bridgeport’s Seaside Park, the Cardinals eke out a 1-0 victory, though Staples outshoots them 15-5. Glastonbury goes on to top Greenwich for the state crown.
• Albie Loeffler is quoted in the Town Crier: "I don’t have any special tricks. I teach the boys everything I possibly can, and after that it’s pretty much up to them. Sure, we’ve done well in the past few years, but I’d rather have my team look ahead rather than back. I’d like to add some more numbers to the plus side of the record." Writer Don Vonliebermann adds: "Boys who go out for soccer for the first time are sometimes surprised at the skill and toughness required….It is by no means a pantywaist’s game." In another article, Dick Waterman suggests the Boosters Club donate a "kicking board" to the field.
• Other team members include Rick Arenander, B. Danaher, Bill Danneman, Bill Deegan, K. Dowd, D. Gorsche, D. Grant, P. Henderson, Jack Lillis, Paul Loeffler, Doug Lorenzen, Burke Mandable, J. McCarthy, B. Metts, G. Miller, N. Neary, Dave Olean, M. Ottinger, J. Palmarie, J. Paull, P. Previnski, J. Richard, P. Schaffer, B. Shulman, Dan Shulman, Dave Smith, D. Smiley, J. Simon, M. Sosna, Eric Street, C. Swift and R. Williams. Paul Loeffler is the coach’s son; the Shulmans’ father is Max, author of the famous Nike Site-based novel, Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys.
• The Westport Recreation Commission inaugurates a seven-team league for 10-13 year-old boys, under the direction of Jack Finn. The teams are the Coleytown Colts, Coleytown Bulldogs, Greens Farms Farmers, Greens Farms Gardeners, Kings Highway Kingsmen, Bedford Bullets and Bedford Blues.
CO-CAPTAINS: Dan Shulman, Dave Smith
COACH: Albie Loeffler
1962: THE FIRST STATE FINALS
• Though the Wreckers open with a 9-0 rout of Stamford, Coach Loeffler is not satisfied. He tells the Town Crier that "the team has much to learn, particularly fundamentals." The Wreckers are unscored upon until, in a battle for first place, they tie New Canaan 2-2. They roll up more shutouts, including a 1-0 win over Norwalk that comes in the final 15 seconds (off a Bud Shulman corner kick), then avenge the earlier draw with a bruising 1-0 victory over New Canaan thanks to a Dave Olean penalty kick.
• Staples shuts out Western Division champion Brien McMahon 2-0, for their second consecutive county crown (and first that is unshared). Doug Lorenzen and Brian McCoy score.
• Thanks to their 52 total points, the Wreckers are ranked first in the state. Facing archrival Glastonbury in the semifinals, they slip by 1-0, thanks to a header by Lillis off an Olean corner kick, and – Loeffler’s hallmark – superb defense. The key play comes in the final period, when a free kick squirts through in the wet mud. Keeper Mike Dill blocks it off his chest; then fullback Bill Deegan bangs it out of bounds off an opponent’s foot.
• The Wreckers’ first state final pits them against tourney-experienced Manchester. The bigger, faster upstaters win 3-0, in front of 500 wet spectators at Choate School. It is coach Dick Danielson’s first victory over a Loeffler-coached team since 1947 (Ellsworth Memorial). Ironically, the only reason 7-4-1 Manchester is in the tourney is because 8-3-1 McMahon fails to send the proper paperwork in on time.
• Dave Lorenzen is the son of Staples principal Stan Lorenzen. Bill Deegan’s son Alex goes on to stardom as Staples’ goalkeeper in 1989 and ’90.
• Other team members include Pete Anderson, Rick Arenander, Walter Bange, D. Carroll, B. Cecil, Denis Colacicco, B. Danaher, C. Denlinger, T. Densmore, H. Heitzman, Ken Levinson, Burke Mandable, J. Marks, Brian McCoy, Martin, Gary Miller, Hank Ottinger, S. Pair, J. Palmerie, Jim Paull, Tom Pinkham, N. Prince, B. Salinger, George Schneider, Jeff Simon, Soupee, S. Van Scoyac, K. Waldo, B. Warner, S. Weppler and Roger Williams.
• Eighth and ninth grade teams start practicing, under the direction of Jack Finn, in preparation for an expanded junior high program next year. The New Canaan High School coach says, "I know it won’t happen, but I would just as soon not see any of you boys on the soccer field for at least another three or four years."
TRI-CAPTAINS: Mike Dill, Jerry Keneally, Tom Pinkham
COACH: Albie Loeffler
1963: THE FIRST STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
• The Wreckers’ rebuilding year starts with a 5-0 shellacking of Roger Ludlowe, followed by a Boosters Club-sponsored jamboree with New Canaan, Manchester and Hall. It is the first ever, anywhere in the state. Brian McCoy’s tally in a goalmouth scramble ensures a 3-2 win over Ludlowe. Several more one-goal wins follow. The Wreckers hand Brien McMahon their first loss of the season, 3-2, before a crowd of 400. Norwalk, with only one win, nearly upsets Staples, but Gary Miller and McCoy score in overtime for a 4-2 victory. Greenwich does the trick, knocking off 8-0 Staples by 2-1, also in OT, though Staples leads in shots 24-14. The Wreckers bounce back to finish the regular season 10-1.
• Brien McMahon coach Ralph King promises revenge for an earlier 3-2 loss – and gets it, 2-1 in overtime, after a clutch fourth-quarter goal by McCoy ties the contest.
• Just a week later, Staples and McMahon clash again, in the CIAC Class A quarterfinals. Bruce McRoy gets the lone goal of the game, in the first period. A few days later the Wreckers avenge their only other loss of the season, downing Greenwich 2-0 on tallies by Denis Colacicco and Bill Warner.
• The final game is against Hall – one of the jamboree opponents from September. No one scores through regulation and two five-minute overtimes at Sterling Field, just minutes from Hall’s West Hartford campus. Tournament chairman John Ruddy rules that the usual method of deciding tie tourney games (counting corner kicks) will not be used, since no winner is needed – so Staples’ first-ever state championship is a shared one. (The Wreckers did lead, 2-1, in corner kicks.)
• Andrew Warde is coached by Tom Haugh, who later teaches science and coaches cross country at Staples.
• Other team members include Pete Anderson, Walter Bange, K. Bush, D. Carroll, John Gerstle, Mike Golden, H. Heitzman, Bob Kronick, Ken Levinson, Paul Loeffler, John Marks, Rick Ormand, Hank Ottinger, Jeff Richards, George Schneider, Jeff Simon, S. Van Scoyoc, S. Weppler and Roger Williams.
• Lou Dorsey, physical education instructor at Saugatuck and Burr Farms Elementary Schools, takes over the Westport Recreation Commission soccer program.
CO-CAPTAINS: Brian McCoy, Roger Williams
COACH: Albie Loeffler
1964: MCMAHON GAINS THE EDGE
• Hairstyles grow longer; uniforms look less baggy; newspaper coverage becomes more frequent; soccer is more prestigious and "cool" at Staples. Once again the Wreckers reload: Only 2 lettermen return, and the majority of the 60 boys trying out are sophomores and juniors.
• With 5 starters out due to injuries, the defending state champions open with a 1-0 win over always-tough New Canaan. The goal comes from Eric Weichmann with less than 3 minutes to play – just seconds after he enters the match. In consecutive 2-0 wins over Andrew Warde and Roger Ludlowe, the Wreckers allow no shots on goal. New Canaan gains revenge with a 2-0 win. Staples beats Rippowam 3-0, all three tallies coming with less than 10 minutes to go. With just 9 seconds remaining against Stamford, Ken Bassman feeds Mike Golden and the Westporters salvage a 1-1 draw.
• Despite a 7-2-1 record, Staples enters the final regular season match with a berth in the 8-team state tournament in doubt. The Wreckers lose 2-0 to an undefeated Brien McMahon team featuring 9 Greek-born players. However, Staples finishes seventh in the state, and qualifies for the CIAC Class A tournament.
• Facing McMahon for the second time in five days, the Wreckers try to pull off a major upset. Bill Schaefer knocks in a rebound; then Bassman makes it 2-0 off a Schaeffer pass. But Garry Marmanides and John Sahnas knot the score in the third period, both off corner kicks. A few minutes later Denis Colacicco calmly knocks in a penalty kick, and in a wild fourth quarter goalkeeper Paul Heath preserves the 3-2 victory.
• Two days later Staples downs Hartford Public 2-1, on a pair of Colacicco goals. Public is in only its second year of soccer – but rode a 2-year, 15-game winning streak.
• Four days after that the Wreckers face McMahon for the sixth time in 2 years. A scoreless first half in Wilton includes a penalty kick by Colacicco that caroms off the crossbar, and fine defensive saves by Ken Nigoshian, George Schneider and Heath. Colacicco and Schaefer nearly score as the second half begins, but the game soon turns into the biggest disaster ever to befall a Staples soccer squad. By the end of the third period McMahon leads 3-0. With Laszlo Tailor leading the way they add 2 more, making the final 5-0. It remains the most 1-sided Wrecker defeat for 33 years.
• Other team members include Doug Busch, Marc Cantor, D. Carroll, B. Davidson, J. Doe (?!), Billy Elliot, F. Engle, Mike Gerstle, K. Gog, Jeff Hand, F. Jordon, R. Kaufman, P. Kennedy, B. Kronick, Doug Lee, J. Martin, J. McClure, B. Mittalliday, John Morley, Steve Ogilvy, S. Robinson, Murray Rosenberg, D. Schaefer, Chris Swan and Mike Sweeney. Swan’s father, Curt, is the famous "Superman" artist.
CO-CAPTAINS: Denis Colacicco, George Schneider
COACH: Albie Loeffler
1965: A PERFECT REGULAR SEASON
• A year older, the team is confident. The team is also changed: The first goal of the season, in a 2-1 win over Norwalk, comes from Paul Heath – last year’s keeper. Staples cruises through the first 7 games undefeated, setting up a long-awaited rematch with still powerful Brien McMahon. A large, raucous crowd watches the Wreckers hand the Senators their first loss of the year, by a convincing 3-1 margin. Bill Schaeffer scores all three goals, the second 2 in the final 2 minutes. Great defense by Chris Swan, Doug Lee, Steve Newsom, Ken Nigoshian, John Morley, Murray Rosenberg and Heath is key. McMahon’s previous "closest" game had been a 3-0 win over Stamford. Coach Albie Loeffler calls this his most satisfying win at Staples. With victories in their next 2 games, the ’65 team is the first to go unbeaten and untied (10-0) through the regular season.
• For the second time in 2 weeks, the Wreckers stop the superb Brien McMahon squad. Mike Gerstle heads in Eric Weichmann’s cross in the second period. Heath – back in goal — gives a clinic, highlighted by a fingertip save on Tony Marmonaides and a chest save on John Sahnas’s bullet. McMahon ties the match in the third period on a controversial penalty kick call. With less than 3 minutes remaining the Wreckers get a PK of their own, and Schaeffer slots it home. This now becomes the first Staples side to complete the regular season and county championship game unbeaten and untied.
• Ranked first, the Wreckers halt Wilbur Cross 3-0, then face 11-1-1 Manchester at a Choate School field featuring two asphalt high jump runways, a landing pit filled with sod, and various wooden drain covers. The upstaters score first; Schaeffer then heads in Nigoshian’s free kick. In the third period two Wrecker defenders collide, a hand ball is called – and Manchester, not Staples, earns the right to meet McMahon for the state crown. (The Senators win that one 1-0, in front of a crowd of 2,000.) In preseason Loeffler had said, as usual, "We’ll be lucky to win 3." In fact, they win 14 and lost just 1.
• At the annual soccer/cross country banquet in the school cafeteria, awards are not presented for most improved and most valuable players. Loeffler says because this was a team effort, it is unfair to single out individual players. Principal Raymond Walch is the main speakaer; special guests include McMahon coach Ralph King and Manchester coach Dick Danielson.
• Other team members include Ken Bassman, Marc Cantor, Bill Elliot, Fred Engel, Mark Halliday, Jeff Hand, John Jensen, Doug McCoy, Steve Ogilvy, Pete Randolph, Bob Ray, Randy Ringer, Dick Schaefer and Ed Schneider.
• Denis Colacicco stars for the undefeated Brown University freshman team. Also still playing soccer: Bud Shulman and Eric Street (Harvard University intramurals).
• Loeffler – who helped pioneer the two-man refereeing system, and in the year 2000 will be inducted in the National Soccer Hall of Fame as a ref — announces his retirement from soccer officiating.
CAPTAIN: Paul Heath
COACH: Albie Loeffler