Published on September 28th, 2022 | by Staples Soccer2
Match Report: Staples vs. Darien
Minutes before today’s match against Darien, head coach Russell Oost-Lievense told the Wreckers that Hunter Smith has been elevated to captain.
It was a popular decision. The senior defender has been an unofficial captain all year. He has shown passion, strong work on both sides of the ball, inspirational words, and a constantly positive, upbeat attitude, particularly with the underclassmen on this very young team.
In short: He’s a leader.
Smith was part of a strong back line that caught the Blue Wave offside at least a dozen times this afternoon, at Wakeman Field. The visitors — an FCIAC pre-season favorite, with a host of returning starters — had been scoring in bunches; 6 goals against Westhill, 4 versus Fairfield Ludlowe, 5 against both Brien McMahon and Bridgeport Central, en route to a 4-2-1 record.
Nick Sikorski in goal, and defenders Smith, tri-captain Ben Douglas, Campbell Gerrard, Cole Lieberman and sophomore Zach Beebe, held Darien to just one goal, and only a few semi-dangerous chances.
But that strike — with 7:37 left to play — was the only one of the contest. The 1-0 loss was another bitter one, as the Westporters again did almost everything right for most of the match, on most of the field.
Sikorski snagged several high balls, in heavy traffic. Douglas was typically tough, in the air and on the ground, at center back. Sophomore Luca Escalarte had a quietly effective game at midfield. Ethan Cukier stretched the Wave defense wide, and Avery Mueller was his usual pesky — and very effective — self, ranging far across the field.
With Staples playing poised soccer, and Darien combining short passes with long balls out of the back, the game heated up after halftime. It was a physical match, but also a technical one — though at times Staples played into Darien’s style, and the ball ping-ponged up and down the field. The Wreckers always righted themselves — until the 72nd minute.
The Wavers’ wide-ranging Trevor Pegg swung the ball wide, then fed it into the box for James Kennedy to squib in. Both are experienced seniors, back from Darien’s strong squad last year.
The Wreckers did not panic. They continued to keep the ball on the turf, to spread the field and find seams. With 20 seconds to go, Sikorski saved and initiated a final attack. But Darien cleared, and secured the win.
Oost-Lievense is playing the long game, with a young squad. They’ll stand tall at the end. The future is solid, for them — and their now 3 captains. FINAL SCORE: Darien 1, Staples 0. SEASON RECORD: 2-4-1.
QUICK KICKS: Staples was missing tri-captain Alex Laskin (concussion) and starting defender Adam Syah (illness) ….
The freshmen beat Darien 5-3. Goals came from Gabe Duque (2) Zach Gillman, Finnbarr Mulcahy and Michael Brennan….
The reserves match was postponed until tomorrow (Thursday, September 29), as the Darien coach has COVID. The game is set for 4 p.m., at Staples’ Loeffler Field ….
Darien has kept 38 players on the varsity roster.