Published on October 1st, 2019 | by Staples Soccer0
Match Report: Staples vs. Greenwich
For Staples boys soccer fans, there is nothing like a Greenwich game.
The Wreckers and Cardinals have waged some epic battles. Most recently, last fall Staples knocked the westerners out of the FCIAC tournament, 1-0. That was sweet revenge, as the Cards had spanked Staples 2-0 in the regular season. Some of the blue-and-whites’ most intense games over the past decade have been against the Cards. Some of their toughest losses, too.
No one knew what to expect this year from Greenwich. They graduated 27 (!) seniors. But they’re the biggest school in the state. Over 130 players try out each year.
This autumn, they roared to a 6-0-0 start. But — coming into Loeffler Field today — they were not only undefeated. They were also unscored upon.
The game at Loeffler Field was just 3 minutes old when the visitors had their first chance. It was the closest thing soccer has to a gimme: a penalty kick.
But keeper Reed Caney guessed correctly, and smothered the shot. The large crowd roared. The Wreckers were electrified.
Yet much of the first half belonged to Greenwich. They did what Staples hoped to avoid: They dictated the play. The Cards play a very direct game — 2 long balls, and they’re headed to goal. The ball was in the air more than the Wreckers wanted, and that played to the visitors’ advantage.
In the 29th minute Patricio Perez Elorza sent Haydn Siroka through, and 2 minutes later Siroka returned the favor. But those were two of the few bright spots for the hosts. A clutch Caney save in the 33rd minute kept the scoreline even.
The second half was entirely different. Caney saved well in the 43rd minute, but from then on it was almost all Staples. The Westporters won contested balls. They kept their passes on the grass. They found wide open spaces on the flanks, and raced into them. They played to feet, played off each other, played with heart and grit and brains.
George Smith came close; then Perez found Carter Bassler — an onrushing defender — who hit high.
In the 51st minute Evan Birns — who bedeviled the Card backs all day — powered through, and missed just wide.
A Staples corner kick was headed over. A second corner was flicked through by Benny Feuer. Keeper Padraig Colligan came up with a stellar stop.
Birns zipped through in the 60th minute, earning another corner.
The Wreckers’ fitness helped them maintain pressure. A fine ball from Murilo Moreno was nearly headed home by Sam Liles. The co-captain is one of Staples’ smallest players — but that’s the way his side played after intermission.
Colligan made a pair of spectacular saves, on shots nearly from the goal line. The second came with just 8 minutes remaining. The clock was ticking down.
One minute later, a foul just inside midfield, on the side by the hill, gave Staples another chance. Perez Elorza laced a long ball to the far post. Emerson Anvari — a few yards from goal — headed it on frame. The ball hit the inside of the post — and caromed back, banging off the inside of the near post.
A scrum of backs tried to clear. But Brendan Lynch — the tall central defender, who had come forward for his heading ability — instead knocked it in, from 2 yards out.
The Wreckers celebrated joyfully. They had the lead — and Greenwich had surrendered their first goal in 553 minutes of play.
But there were still 7 minutes left. In soccer — and in Wrecker-Cardinal matches — that’s an eternity. Anything can happen.
It did. In the 75th minute, Colligan received a yellow card. The keeper had to leave. And Staples had a penalty kick.
But — just like Greenwich’s, which started the match — this too was saved.
The Cards pressed for the equalizer. But the Wreckers — with defenders Lynch, Bassler, Feuer and the ever-steady Surya Balaji, kept them at bay. The midfielders held, and played balls into the corners. Staples managed the game right to the end.
It was as big a win, in its way, as last year’s FCIAC match. It gave the young Wreckers — who had dropped a tough 1-0 decision to Fairfield Warde on a penalty kick, 5 days earlier — a huge shot of confidence.
And it ensured that the next Staples-Greenwich game — whether it comes in the FCIAC or state tournament, or next year — will be just as intense. FINAL SCORE: Staples 1, Greenwich 0. SEASON RECORD: 4-2-1.
QUICK KICKS: Staples outshot Greenwich 13-7, and led in corner kicks 5-1….
The varsity’s next match is Thursday, 7 p.m. at Brien McMahon. On Saturday, they host Fairfield Warde (2 p.m.). That game marks the 50th reunion of the 1969 Staples team, which won the state championship — the first of 5 straight. Nearly 2 dozen former Wreckers are coming from around the country. They’ll celebrate in the cafeteria before the game, then head out to The Hill….
The reserves were down 1-0 at halftime to Greenwich. They came out much stronger in the second half. Graham Barnes earned a scrappy goal off a Sam Vannart free kick to tie it up early. A breakaway was stopped by Zach Pulichino 15 minutes in. The Wreckers were down a man throughout the final 25 minutes, but played as if they were up one. Vannart set the tone with his center back play. Jackson Hochhauser was solid throughout. Jaden Mueller and Matt Jordan stepped in to play new roles as wing backs. Strong tactical play by Will Adams and Thomas Corrdino in the center of the field, and a clean 2nd half sheet by keeper Jacob Greenberger earned a 1-1 draw….
Last Friday, the reserves defeated Fairfield Warde 3-1. Greenberger shined in goal. The Wreckers possessed excellently, and played well out of the back. Coaches Russell Oost-Lievense and Reilly Lynch lauded Hochhauser, Kyle Rotolo, Matthew Genser, Aaron Jaffe and Reese Watkins, while Corridon “ran the show.” Watkins scored twice, Barnes once, and Matthew Jordan and Jaden Mueller were strong off the bench….
The freshmen battled back from a 1-0 halftime deficit. Matt Shackelford snagged a pair of through balls, and slotted them home. Keeper Steve Divino came through huge several times, making diving stops and blocking a point-blank shot. The defensive line of Campbell Gerrard, Hunter Smith, Ben Douglas, Alex Laskin and Tyler Kocagdag kept the fast, strong Greenwich front line in check.