Published on November 8th, 2018 | by Staples Soccer2
Match Report: State Tournament 2nd Round vs. Cheshire
Staples and Cheshire boast longtime successful soccer programs. Yet prior to tonight, they’d met only 3 times in state tournament play.
In 1987, the upstaters handed a great Staples team a crushing first-round loss. The next year, the Rams again prevailed.
In 1993, the Wreckers won. Cheshire was one more victim on the route to a state championship.
25 years later, they faced off again. Staples — ranked #10 in LL — made the hour-long trip. Cheshire was 7th.
The teams play similar quick, ball-control soccer. The Wreckers started especially quickly on the turf. They kept the Rams pinned in their own end for a while. But — led by captain Toby Goldstein — the hosts were explosive on the counter.
In the 16th minute, Nick DiMasi’s great work on the left side nearly resulted in an Austin Sholes header goal.
But it was Cheshire who drew first blood. Goldstein found Matthew Moyano on the right. His tough-angle shot whistled into the far net.
The raucous Ram fans’ celebration was short-lived. Less than 2 minutes later, Patricio Perez Elorza fed DiMasi. The striker’s one-time shot was true, for a stunning equalizer.
Staples continued to press — and find seams. Vaughan Sealey laid off to Sam Liles. The midfielder served one of his several superb crosses from the right. But no one was there to finish.
The Wreckers kept up the attack after intermission. Austin Sholes hit DiMasi, for another dangerous cross.
Staples defenders Perez Elorza, Rob Diorio, Nick Ambrose and Surya Balaji moved as a unit, stepping up to win balls and supporting each other behind. But in the 51st minute a Cheshire cross could have been deadly. It was misheaded wide.
The Wreckers’ next golden opportunity was in the 65th minute. Lefty Penderakis’ ball sent Matthew Tanzer in alone. His shot was just high.
Instantly, the Rams capitalized. They roared upfield, and fired. Keeper Ry Cohen saved, and the defense almost cleared the rebound. But Denys Fuentes pounced, and finished. Cheshire was up 2-1 — and just 14:49 remained.
Staples came right back. DiMasi laced a bullet — but it caromed off the crossbar.
Play grew fierce. A yellow card to Cheshire was followed quickly by a red to Perez Elorza, for retaliation. The Wreckers were down a goal — and, for the final 8 minutes, down a man.
They battled relentlessly. But the Rams were equal to the task. Energized, they cleared balls vigorously.
One final attack found 10 men forward. Fuentes had an open shot that iced the game — with 6 seconds left.
It was a gut-wrenching end to a superb season. This Wrecker team thought they had the potential to go reach the finals.
“This was a fantastic group. They had a wonderful season,” said head coach Dan Woog. “They committed themselves 1000 percent to Staples soccer — and, even more importantly, to each other. They formed unbreakable bonds, and played some really, really good soccer. I’m heartbroken for them that it had to end.”
But, Woog added, “They grew so much, not only as athletes, but as people. They dedicated themselves fully to something. Very few teenagers — or any age, really — do that. That says so much about them, and will serve them so well the rest of their lives. If you don’t shoot for the stars, you’ll never reach the moon. This group is truly special. Their coaches and fans love them, and will never forget them.” FINAL SCORE: Cheshire 3, Staples 1. FINAL SEASON RECORD: 12-4-4.
QUICK KICKS: The Wreckers graduate 11 seniors: Nick Ambrose, Gabe Baltierra, Ry Cohen, Wilson Daniels, Nick DiMasi, Rob Diorio, Mauricio Inglada, Lefty Penderakis, Vaughan Sealey, Austin Sholes and Matthew Tanzer….
The team’s 12 wins is the best since 2014. That team went 12-7-2. Percentage-wise, this was the Wreckers’ best mark since 2011 (13-4-4).