Amazing Facts

The Staples boys soccer program was founded in 1957 by Albie Loeffler. Through the end of the 2012 season, the Wreckers amassed an overall record of 810 wins, 192 losses and 107 ties.

The teams have won 12 state championships (1963, ’67, ’69, ’70, ’71, ’72, 73, ’78, ’81, ’82, ’93 and ’09). In addition, they finished as runners-up 6 times (1962, ’68, ’92, ’96, ’06 and ’10). Their 5 consecutive state titles (1969-73) is a state record.

The Staples boys have won a remarkable 27 FCIAC championships. From 1961-69, the only 2 teams in the FCIAC finals were Staples and Brien McMahon.

The Wreckers have captured a phenomenal 32 FCIAC divisional titles. The first came in 1961; the most recent was in 2011.

There has never been a season in which the Wreckers were undefeated and untied. The closest they came were 18-0-1 (1972), 13-0-6 (1974), 18-0-2 (1981) and 16-0-3 (1982). The 2000 team went undefeated and untied through all 16 games of the regular season, the first time they played a 16-match schedule.

The 1971-73 teams played 43 straight games without a loss. Equally remarkably, the Wreckers went from 1966 to 1975 without losing a single game at home. Twice, they reeled off 39 regular season games without a loss (1966-70, 1980-83), while the 1999-2001 squads won 27 consecutive FCIAC matches.

The 1970 squad compiled a remarkable statistic: they surrendered only 2 goals the entire season. Both, even more amazingly, were to Nyack, N.Y., in the 2nd game of the season. So they went all year without being scored on by a Connecticut team. (Still, they shared the state championship, thanks to a 0-0 tie in the finals.) And the 1970-71 teams rolled to 25 consecutive shutouts. That includes FCIAC and state tournament matches.

The Wreckers have had only 4 head coaches – and 1 served only 1 year. Albie Loeffler began the program in 1957, and retired after the 1977 season. In 1969, while Mr. Loeffler was on sabbatical leave, Frank Henrick was interim coach; in 1970 Mr. Loeffler suffered a heart attack prior to the season, and he and Jeff Lea served as co-coaches. Mr. Lea was named Mr. Loeffler’s successor in 1978, and served as head coach through the 2002 season. Dan Woog was named his successor on February 14, 2003. Mr. Loeffler moved in retirement to North Carolina, where he died in 2009 the day before his 94th birthday. Mr. Lea splits his time between Connecticut and New Hampshire.

Over 200 graduates of the Staples boys program have gone on to play college, and more than 50 have been elected captains of their college teams.

  • Staples’ 1st game ever (September 23, 1958) was a 3-2 loss to Andrew Warde. Four days later, the Wreckers shut out Roger Ludlowe 4-0 for their 1st-ever win.
  • Mark Noonan ’83 and Mike Clifford ’85 were members of Duke University’s 1st national championship in any sport, even before basketball: the 1986 men’s soccer team.
  • In 71 games, Staples has lost just 3 times to New Canaan. The Wreckers’ lifetime record against the Rams is 53-3-15.
  • Three sets of 4 brothers have played Staples soccer: the Murphys, Hobermans and McNairs.
  • Albie Loeffler — founder of the Staples soccer program — died in 2009, the day before his 94th birthday. Two months later, the Wreckers won their 12th state championship.
  • Staples soccer has won 16 straight Academic All-America honors from United Soccer Coaches. The award recognizes a team GPA of 3.25 or higher.
  • Jeff Lea had the longest tenure of Staples soccer’s 3 full-time coaches. He retired in 2002 with a career record of 371-74-41.
  • 11 members of the 1970 Staples team went on to become captains of their college squads.
  • Joe Cuseo — the Staples soccer team bus driver — used to roll out a red carpet for the Wreckers as they arrived at away games. Coach Albie Loeffler was not amused.
  • From 1967 through 1964, Staples’ soccer team never lost a home match.
  • Kit Ashby — father of Staples players Chris, Anson and Patrick — was Bill Clinton’s roommate at Georgetown University. As president, Clinton named Ashby Ambassador to Uruguay. Chris went on to play soccer at Georgetown.
  • Staples soccer has had 8 All-Americans: Ed Murphy, Phil Moen, Mark Noonan, Mike Clifford, Chris Mitchell, Kyle Martino, Brendan Lesch and James Hickok.
  • Current coaches Kurt Dasbach and Tom Henske each had a son play Staples soccer (Shane and Spencer). Former head coach Albie Loeffler’s son Paul played too.
  • The 1970 Staples team gave up only 2 goals all year — both in a 2-1 loss to Nyack, NY. The ’75 team also gave up only 2 — one in a 1-0 state tourney loss to Rockville.
  • Several Staples players starred in the nationally released movie “Manny’s Orphans. Current head coach Dan Woog played the referee.
    — Staples soccer began when a group of Weston students (who then attended SHS) asked physical education teacher Albie Loeffler to form a club. All had played soccer at Weston Junior High. One of the key players on that first club team was Norwegian exchange student Per Haarr.

    — Staples’ all-time record against the old Andrew Warde and Roger Ludlowe high schools was 65-1-0. They merged to become Fairffield High in 1995. Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe were re-formed in 2004.

    — Westport’s junior highs — Bedford and Long Lots — began competitive soccer in 1963. Coleytown joined them when it opened in ’65. They played against each other and other towns until 1983, when 9th graders moved up to Staples.

    — In 1970, Staples played 13 players on the All-FCIAC 1st, 2nd and honorable mention teams.

    — Staples has had 2 players each named Mike Smith, Mike White, James Manning and Tom Jones. None are related. There was also one named Brian McMahon

    — The 2006 team had 2 straight state tournament games go to penalty kicks. Both went 2 rounds. The Wreckers made 18 of their 19 shots.— 10 fathers and sons have played Staples soccer: Bill and Alex Deegan; Charlie and Charlie Perlwitz; John and Matt Sych; Stuart and Michael McCarthy; Tommy, Charlie and Joe Greenwald; Doug, John and Ryan Fincher; Bandy and Anton Mahr; Ismael and Ben Ibarra, and (this year) Kent and Ryan Thomas. The McCarthys are the only father-son duo to have both won state championships.

    — Assistant coach Kurt Dasbach and Mark Noonan were high school All-Americans the same year: 1982. Kurt earned his honors in Maryland.

    — Staples soccer founder Albie Loeffler was also a referee. He officiated the 1st-ever NCAA tournament, at the University of Connecticut. One of the Final 4 University of Bridgeport players, Jim Kuhlmann, went on to coach Westport’s spring and summer teams, and mentored many Staples players. Loeffler went on to become a member of the National Referees Hall of Fame.

    — 11 people associated with Staples soccer are in the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame: Albie Loeffler, Dan Woog, Jim Kuhlmann, Paul Hunter, Tim Hunter, Mark Noonan, Kyle Martino, Mike Noonan, Steve Baumann, Ken Murphy and Kevin Murphy.

    — Former Staples stars (and brothers) Peter and Steve Dickstein went on to play against each other as Ivy League rivals, at the University of Pennsylvania and Brown University respectively.

    — Jimmy Manning headed in the winning goal in the 1973 state final, in sudden death overtime against Manchester. His mother Jean taped the game. Her film ran out as soon as the ball went in the net. She promised to wake her husband — in India — to tell him about their son’s goal.

    — In 1968, coach Jeff Lea kept 44 players (all sophomore) on his junior varsity team. One was named Jeff Lee.— For a few years, the soccer and cross country teams held their banquets together, in the Staples cafeteria. The cost was $4.50 for parents, $2.50 for JV players. The varsity went free.

    — Staples’ 1st game ever was played at what was then called Doubleday Field (now PJ Romano Field) behind what is now Saugatuck Elementary School (the old Staples High) on Riverside Avenue because the high school field was not ready. It took 50 more years before a home match was played at a different site. Rain forced a move to the Wakeman turf, next to the “new” Bedford Middle School.

    — Two future first selectmen were members of Staples’ 1st soccer team: Joe Arcudi (Westport) and George Guidera (Weston).

    — Paul Hunter ’73 went on to play at the University of Connecticut — and then with the New York Cosmos, where his teammates included Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto and Johan Neeskens. Paul’s brother Tim ’71 also starred at UConn, and played in the North American Soccer League.

    — Staples soccer is older than the  FCIAC. The first team was fielded in 1958 — 2 years before the league was organized.

    — Gordon Hull’s goal with 11 seconds left in the final overtime won the 1978 state championship, 2-1 over Greenwich. It was Jeff Lea’s 1st year as head coach, after Albie Loeffler retired.

    — For the first 12 years of Staples soccer, games were played in 4 quarters of 15 minutes each. The change to 40-minute halves came in 1971.— Albie Loeffler and Jim Kuhlmann started Woodbrook, perhaps the first sleepaway soccer camp in the US. Kuhlmann and Jim Kaufman ’62 bought it, renamed it the Soccer Farm, and grew many generations of players at the Pomfret School in upstate Connecticut.

    — 1992 was the first time Staples played 5 state tournament games. They reached the finals of the enlarged (from 16) 32-team event, but lost 3-0 to Simsbury. The next year, the Wreckers won it all — again in 5 games.

    — Staples soccer’s 1st college player was Bill Needham, from the original 1958 team. He was the first of many former Wreckeres to play at Wesleyan University.

    — The 1978 banquet was legendary. Cosmos star Santiago Formosa told players not to go to college, but instead concentrate on soccer. Co-captain Gordon Hull gave a speech in Portuguese. Co-captain Tommy Greenwald’s father walked in late wearing a kilt, following his bagpipe lesson.

    — An early Staples soccer banquet featured guest speaker Pete Gogolak, the soccer-style kicker for the New York Giants.

    — The first teams sat on benches where they do now. They then moved to the base of The Hill, but in 1988 moved back to the far side, when the FCIAC mandated that teams side on opposite sides from fans. Players welcomed the move, saying that area had previously been a quiet “dead zone.”

    — After college, Derek and Drew Riker ’88 became super-models. They also appeared on “The Amazing Race.”— The 1992 team scored 91 goals — by far the most ever for a Staples squad.

    — For the first 10 years of Staples soccer, only 2 teams played in the FCIAC finals: the Wreckers and Brien McMahon. And it was a 1-game tournament: only the top 2 teams qualified.

    — The only goal defender Rob Stone scored was in the 1982 state final: a 1-0 win over Ridgefield. That was the first Staples team to not win a division title. Despite an undefeated league record, they had 3 ties. Stone’s strike came 4 years to the day after the Wreckers topped Greenwich 2-1, in the state championship — on the same Conner Field, in New Canaan.

    — The 2009 state championship made Staples the first Connecticut soccer team to win a state title in 5 different decades. All 12 state crowns have come in the highest division.

    — In 1988, Staples lost to Brien McMahon 2-0. It was the first time in 9 years — 135 games — they fell by more than 1 goal. That previous 2-goal margin was 3-1 to Glastonbury, in the 1979 state semifinal.

    — In 1989, Staples and Ridgefield were both in the USA Today Top 20. That meant 2 teams from the same league — and division! — were rated nationally.

    — For several years in the 1960s and ’70s, Staples fielded varsity, intermediate (11th graders not on varsity) and junior varsity (10th grade only) teams.— The 2009 team’s 4-0 victory over New Milford in the state championship was the biggest margin of victory ever in the largest schools division final.

    — Staples’ greatest comeback: Down 3-1 vs. #3 West Haven in the 2014 state tournament with less than 17 minutes to go, the #18 Wreckers won 4-3 — in regulation time.

    — Shane Kennedy ’72 became a goalkeeper midway through his senior year. He went on to set an NCAA record for career shutouts at Babson College.

    — The 2009 team set a record for most wins in a season: 22.

    — Eric Lund was a Brien McMahon star in 1967. When he died of leukemia in 1972, his last words were: “Have to get back to Westport. Can’t find the way. Please, mom, help me. Westport?” He was recalling the great Staples-McMahon rivalries. His mother Doris told that story in her best-selling book “Eric.”