Published on September 24th, 2022 | by Staples Soccer0
Match Report: Staples vs. Glastonbury
The score line reads Glastonbury 4, Staples 0.
It looks like a blowout. It was anything but.
In fact, today’s match — part of the first-ever FCIAC/CCC Challenge Cup, pitting top teams from Connecticut’s top 2 leagues against each other, at Farmington Sports Arena — was the most important and impressive of the Wreckers’ year.
It may prove to be a season-changer — in a good way.
it was also one of the most difficult situations the Westporters have faced in their 64-year history.
They were coming off a devastating, potentially demoralizing loss to Wilton. Less than 48 hours earlier, the previously winless Warriors had overcome a 1-0 deficit to win, 2-1. In the final seconds, they lost co-captain Alex Laskin — playing strongly at defensive midfield — to a concussion.
Head coach Russell Oost-Lievense knew he would face 5-0-0 Glastonbury — a perennial state powerhouse — without two of his strongest players, Cole Lieberman and Hunter Smith. Both are recovering from injuries. So is Martin Ladegaard.
But this morning, he received text after distressing text. Junior dynamo Dylan Hoke was sick; so were senior defender Campbell Gerrard and midfielder Josh Deitch, and midfielder Zach Beebe.
Oost-Lievense called up several reserves.
His makeshift starting lineup of 3 seniors, 4 juniors and 4 sophomores included Chase Watkins, who had made his varsity debut the previous game (and assisted on Staples’ goal, off a corner kick), plus keeper Steve Divino, who had not yet seen a minute of varsity time.
Oh, yeah: The Wreckers kicked off into a substantial wind.
But they stepped up their game — big time.
Playing smart, controlled soccer, and showing heaps of heart against a well-coached, bigger and more experienced foe, Staples never backed down. The went toe to toe with the upstaters for the first 25 minutes. Avery Mueller led the spirited attack, with poise and creativity. A superb 11th minutes kick save by Glastonbury’s keeper, on a great opportunity by Matt Shackelford, prevented an almost certain goal.
Another great chance started with defender Cormac Mulvey. Ethan Cukier then sent a ball across, and Shackelford nearly connected again. The Wreckers were getting numbers into the box, a problem in several previous matches.
Co-captain Ben Douglas commanded the back line. He, Mulvey, Alex Kuster and Adam Syah stepped up as a unit, catching the Guardians offside 3 times.
Though outsized midfielders Luca Escalante and Zack Gorin — both 10th graders — won their share of balls.
Glastonbury broke through in the 25th minute, An excellent, slicing free kick from just outside the box beat the defensive wall.
Two minutes later, a long ball over the top from midfield found a front runner. He timed it perfectly, heading home with a well-taken touch.
The Guardians’ third goal came on a grass-cutter, after a corner was cleared only to the top of the box.
A squibbed-in goal 2 minutes before halftime put the match out of reach.
But the Wreckers did not give up, give in or fade away. They kept Glastonbury scoreless in the second half, with 40 minutes of intelligent, spirited play. Sophomores Jonny Costello, Elliott Galin, Ryan Sunjka (called up from reserves late in the morning) and junior Santi Alfageme helped spark Staples.
Only another great keeper save — this time on a Mueller rip — kept the clean sheet.
Despite all the adversity — more than any Staples boys soccer team may ever have faced — the Wreckers now look to the remainder of the season with confidence. They know they’re young. They know they don’t have their full lineup. But they know they can play.
They’re ready for Darien — one of the FCIAC’s pre-season favorites. That next match is Wednesday (4 p.m., Wakeman Field).
Buckle up. Staples’ boys soccer season has just begun. FINAL SCORE: Glastonbury 4, Staples 0. SEASON RECORD: 2-4-1.
QUICK KICKS: The FCIAC/CCC Challenge Cup was created by Glastonbury girls head coach Mark Landers (who led the boys team for many years), and former Staples head coach Dan Woog. The aim was to showcase the top teams in both leagues, at one venue. There was great media coverage by GameTime and Channel 30, and plenty of interest from both leagues, and some college coaches. The weather was perfect too.
Last night, Avon beat Ridgefield, and South Windsor topped Brien McMahon, both by 3-2 scores. Today Danbury shut out Southington 2-0; Trumbull topped Farmington 1-0, Newington downed Wilton 2-0, and Westhill took East Hartford 2-1. Tonight’s games: Hall 5, Greenwich 0; Darien 1, Conard 1; New Canaan 3, Wethersfield 0 ….
“Guardians” is a new nickname for Glastonbury. For decades, they were known as the Tomahawks. They — and several CCC teams known as the Indians, along with the Conard Chieftains — have now changed their names and mascots ….
In addition to all the other issues the Wreckers faced today, their bus arrived late.