Published on October 26th, 2018 | by Staples Soccer0
Match Report: Staples vs. Greenwich, FCIAC Quarterfinal
Last night, the Wreckers had a pasta dinner at co-captain Gabe Baltierra’s house.
To get themselves even more ready for their FCIAC quarterfinal match than they were — they’d already had a strong, productive training session — they watched Mike Carey ’01’s 60th anniversary video.
They’d seen it before. But they wanted to relive the great goals, fantastic saves — and joyful celebrations — of teams over the past 6 decades.
This year’s Staples team is not burdened by the program’s history. They love it. And they want to take their place as the latest link in a long chain.
They’d already achieved one goal: earning a home FCIAC playoff game. This was the Wreckers’ first time at Loeffler Field since 2013 (a 2-0 loss to Wilton).
A large crowd — including the reserve and freshman teams, football players, girls soccer players and soccer fans from around Fairfield County — packed The Hill for the 3 p.m. start. They were loud.
They needed to be. Staples-Greenwich is always a battle. And the Cardinals are not only 2-time defending FCIAC champions — they did it in part by bouncing the Wreckers from the last 2 FCIAC quarterfinals (2-1 and 2-0).
Oh, yeah: They also pounded the Westporters 2-0 in their regular season meeting earlier this fall.
But all those matches were in Greenwich. This time in Westport, Staples vowed, would be different.
They came out hard. Nick DiMasi and Matthew Tanzer combined to earn an early corner kick. It was clear: This would not be another roll over-and-die match.
Less than 10 minutes had elapsed when the Cards played a ball back. A defender was not sure if he should keep going backward. The keeper hesitated.
DiMasi pounced. He picked up the loose ball, cruised directly forward, and finished into a virtually open net.
It was the striker’s 3rd goal in 2 games. It sparked the Wreckers to another 10 minutes of strong soccer. Lefty Penderakis — who had used his body well to pressure — was replaced by the fleet Mauricio Inglada, who continued to press. DiMasi worked the left side.
Austin Sholes directed the midfield. Tanzer and Vaughan Sealey spread wide, working the flanks. Baltierra patrolled the middle.
Greenwich came back in the second 20 minutes. It was a tight battle, with dangerous forays by Schoke and Francisco. But Nick Ambrose won plenty of balls in the back. Surya Balaji was his usual well-timed tackle machine. Rob Diorio was calm and steady on the left side. Patricio Perez Elorza electrified the crowd with his work on the right side, picking up loose balls and initiating dangerous counters.
Keeper Ry Cohen stood tall in the nets. He did not face many challenges — Staples kept Greenwich from firing dangerous shots, though they did have a few corner kicks — but his excellent positioning and sure hands on anything that came near inspired his team.
The second half began with Staples exerting more pressure. As the half wore on, and the Cards either could not get much going in the box or were stymied when they did, the blue-and-whites gained confidence.
They did not bunker in. They kept doing what worked. They got jolts of energy when Wilson Daniels and Sam Liles came on.
The clock ticked down. The Wreckers defended intelligently and tenaciously. Sholes, Ambrose and Baltierra won nearly everything in the air.
With the crowd urging them on, Staples kept possession in the corners. When they lost the ball, they got 11 men back. Then they went forward again. And when they had to defend, they did that too.
Suddenly, it was over. Dozens of fans poured down The Hill, and onto the field.
It was a celebration just like the team had seen in the 60th anniversary video. But this one was theirs.
Still, it was just the opening round of the FCIAC tournament. The semifinal — against #2 Trumbull, which beat #7 Norwalk 7-5 in penalty kicks in their quarterfinal — looms on Monday (Fairfield Ludlowe High School, 7 p.m.). The Eagles edged the Wreckers 1-0, earlier this year. They — and Greenwich — were the only 2 teams to beat Staples this year.
For the Wreckers to join the storied teams of the past, there are more games to prepare for.
And — they hope — celebrate. FINAL SCORE: Staples 1, Greenwich 0. SEASON RECORD: 11-2-4.
QUICK KICKS: This was Staples’ first FCIAC quarterfinal win since 2014 (a 2-1 win at Danbury). In the semifinals that year, the Wreckers fell 3-2 in a wild match at Greenwich. Staples’ most recent home FCIAC playoff win came in 2011: 1-0 in the quarterfinals. Over — you guessed it — Greenwich….
Lefty Penderakis’ mother Facetimed the entire game to her husband. He was in Tokyo, on business. It was 4 in the morning there — the next day….
The reserves shut out Fairfield Ludlowe yesterday 2-0, to end their season 9-2-3. Lars Djuve knocked in a rebound, and Aiden Rose banged home a penalty kick….
The freshmen topped Darien 7-3, to finish the year 11-1-1. The highlight of the match came when Will Adams took a ball out of the air, and volleyed in from 30 yards. Spencer Levine also tallied with a sick upper left corner shot from the right side of the 18.