Published on October 15th, 2018 | by Staples Soccer0
Match Report: Staples vs. Fairfield Ludlowe
On Saturday, the Wreckers looked strong. But they emerged with just 1 point in the standings, with a 0-0 draw against Darien. The game was physically demanding, and running on the muddy Loeffler Field took a lot out of the team.
Just 48 hours later, they had to face another excellent opponent: their next-door rivals, Fairfield Ludlowe. Both teams are battling for FCIAC playoff spots — and a home field 1st-round game.
Last night, the blue-and-whites watched Mike Carey’s superb Staples soccer 60th anniversary video (click here!). Inspired by 6 decades of excellent goals, tremendous defense, and awesome celebrations — and believing in themselves more and more every game — the Wreckers headed to Taft Field to do battle.
The Falcons move the ball quickly, and have a fearsome long throw. The field was wet, after a slight rain. The Wreckers played the 1st half into a steady wind.
None of that mattered. Contesting 50-50 and head balls more tenaciously than they have all year; keeping the ball on the nice turf; finding teammates’ feet, and utilizing nifty combinations to keep the ball moving laterally, diagonally and into the corners, Staples controlled the rhythm and style.
They were tough defensively, tested often by that long throw. As they saw that their backs were confident and together, the rest of the team rose to the challenge too.
Vaughan Sealey — the quick, wide-ranging midfielder — won a ball at midfield. He took his man on, beat him, then laid off a square pass to Lefty Penderakis. The formidable forward fired from 30 yards out. The keeper never moved, as the ball rocketed into the back of the net. It was a goal worthy of any he and his teammates had seen the night before, in the video.
The clock showed exactly 20 minutes gone — and 20 to play — in the 1st half.
The strike energized Staples. Co-captain Gabe Baltierra — playing with spirit at central midfield, winning tackles and initiating plays — dumped a ball into the box 5 minutes later. The Falcons barely cleared.
The 2nd half saw the defensive 4 taking even more control. Stepping and sliding together, each contributed his own style to keep Ludlowe at bay. Senior Rob Diorio has quietly made his mark on the outside, game by game. His counterpart, junior Patricio Perez Elorza, is always well positioned, and races upfield after winning balls. The center is patrolled by co-captain Nick Ambrose — an unflappable marker — and sophomore Surya Balaji, who has an unerring ability to win well-timed tackles.
Just 4 minutes after intermission, Austin Sholes won a great ball at midfield. The senior — playing his first year at Staples, after several seasons in the US Soccer Development Academy — quickly found Nick DiMasi, the powerful striker. DiMasi just as quickly returned the favor. Sholes cruised forward, finishing with poise and power for a 2-0 edge.
The goal gave Staples one more jolt. With Matthew Tanzer — Sholes’ former academy teammate — shutting down everything on the left side; Sam Liles adding speed and Josh DeDomenico smarts on the flanks, and Mauricio Inglada and Brendan Lynch coming off the bench to pressure — the Wreckers kept pressing.
The Falcons had a few dangerous forays, including free kicks. They had a chance to ruin Staples’ 2nd straight shutout — and 6th of the season — with 10 seconds to go. But keeper Ry Cohen — a steady presence all day — flew to his right, and punched clear.
The Wreckers are catching fire — and gaining confidence — at exactly the right time. They have 2 matches left: Saturday (home, 12 noon vs. New Canaan) and Tuesday, Oct. 23 at St. Joseph. They can smell the post-season.
And — thanks to games like tonight, and videos like last night’s — they are ready for anything. FINAL SCORE: Staples 2, Fairfield Ludlowe 0. SEASON RECORD: 8-2-4.
QUICK KICKS: It’s that time of year for anything to happen. Today’s scores include Fairfield Warde 1, Greenwich 0; Trumbull 1, Norwalk 1; Trinity Catholic 1, Central 0, and Westhill 3, Stamford 1.