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Published on October 28th, 2016 | by Staples Soccer


Match Report: Staples vs. Greenwich (FCIAC Quarterfinals)

Only 1 FCIAC boys soccer tournament match was played in yesterday’s freezing rain. #5 Fairfield Warde knocked off #4 Darien in penalty kicks, after a 1-1 regulation time score, and 2-2 overtime draw. The game featured a yellow card on the Blue Wave keeper, followed immediately by a Mustang goal f the ensuing corner kick.

Experts predicted that would be just a forerunner of the league tournament. As Hearst papers noted, any one of the 8 teams could knock off anyone else. In fact, Staples — the #8 seed — headed to Greenwich this afternoon brimming with confidence. The Cardinals were 14-0-2 — #1 in the FCIAC and the entire state, #16 in the country — but one of those ties came earlier this month, 0-0 with the Wreckers at Cardinal Stadium.

The match lived up to its hype. Daniel Reid forced a corner kick just 10 seconds into the match. Ziggy Hallgarten made 3 excellent saves before 7 minutes were played. Spencer Daniels had 2 shots that just missed. Hallgarten saved again, outside his box; then Josh Berman cleared the follow-up shot off the goal line.

It was end-to-end — but the Cards led 1-0 at halftime, thanks to a shot from the right by Shoki Araki.

Staples made a couple of tweaks at halftime. They committed to pressuring even harder than they had.

And it worked. With Daniels, Anton Mahr, Stephen Rowland and Azam Plummer pushing forward, the blue-and-whites owned the 2nd half.

In the 48th minute Thomas Nealon — the hard-working, wide-ranging left midfielder, fed Daniels. Somehow, keeper James Johnson stuffed the quad-captain.

The Wreckers redoubled — even re-tripled — their efforts. They were on fire — but time ticked down.

Suddenly, Teddy Lawrence — a defender who was coming way up — shot from the 18.  The ball caromed back to Nealon, who calmly fired home.

The bench stormed onto the field. It was the wildest celebration of the year — and well deserved.

But a minute later, Hallgarten was forced out of his box, almost to the sideline, on a breakaway. He made the save, but earned a yellow card for his hard slide.

Sophomore Ry Cohen came on. Hallgarten was allowed back on the next out of bounds whistle. But before that could happen, Staples was whistled for a penalty kick just inside the box. Cohen was ready, but Kai Lammers’ shot was true. Just 6:55 remained.’

Staples responded with fierce intensity. Chris Martenson won a stunning tackle deep in his own territory. He dribbled twice, then launched a long ball to the right corner. It seemed destined to carry over the end line.

Somehow, Nealon tracked it down. Somehow, he kept it in bounds. Somehow, he turned it into a corner kick.

The Wreckers raced into position. The service was great. Lawrence headed it into the upper right corner.

Once again, harsh luck intervened. What looked like the tying goal skimmed off the top of the crossbar. One minute remained.

Staples continued to press, but the Cards held on.

It was a devastating loss for the Wreckers. They’d given undefeated Greenwich everything they had. They’d forced the game for the final 40 minutes.

Yet it was the Cardinals — not the Wreckers — who advanced.

“I’ve never, ever seen a game like that,” head coach Dan Woog said. “Our guys did everything we asked them to. They executed our game plan, and left it all out on the field. We could not have asked for more. I’m insanely proud of them. I hope they recognize how far they’ve come, how well they played — and what they are capable of doing in the state tournament.

The LL (large schools) tournament begins on Tuesday, November 8. Pairings will be announced next Friday. FINAL SCORE:  Greenwich 2, Staples 1. SEASON RECORD: 7-4-6.

QUICK KICKS:  Click here for the Ruden Report’s insightful take on today’s match…

In other FCIAC tournament action, #3 Danbury edged #6 Fairfield Ludlowe 1-0, while #2 Trumbull downed #7 Stamford 3-1….

Freshman keeper Teddy O’Kane joins the varsity for the post-season….

The freshmen beat New Canaan 3-0, to finish a fine season 9-1-0. Lars Djuve, Josh DiDomenico and Patrick Ostbye scored. Djuve and John Kuehndorf earned kudos from coach Russell Oost-Lievense for their play against the Rams.

The Wreckers stand for the national anthem at Greenwich. (Photos/Armelle Daniels)


Teddy Lawrence outraces Luis Carillo in the FCIAC quarterfinals. (Photo/Armelle Daniels)


Anton Mahr strikes the ball, as Spencer Daniels overlaps. (Photo/Frances Rowland)


The bench races onto the field, to celebrate Thomas Nealon’s tying goal in the FCIAC quarterfinals. (Photo/Frances Rowland)


Thomas Nealon got a true Staples haircut before the FCIAC tournament.

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