Published on October 19th, 2020 | by Staples Soccer0
Match Report: Staples vs. Ridgefield
In their first 2 home-and-away series this COVID-infected season, the Wreckers lost the opening match, then rebounded to tie the second.
In the opener of their 3rd series last Wednesday, they leapt out to a 2-0 lead at Ridgefield. The Tigers drew even, but Alan Fiore’s late goal gave the visitors the win.
Before today’s rematch at Loeffler Field, the coaches reminded the blue-and-whites of the first 2 series. Would Ridgefield similarly come out ready for revenge?
Whatever hopes the Tigers had of putting their mark on the game were quashed 5 minutes in. Center back Surya Balaji sliced a pass forward to Fiore. He shot right at the keeper — but the ball skittered between his legs, for a quick 1-0 edge.
The Wreckers’ midfield was missing Jack Douglas. The co-captain is out for the season, following an ACL tear in the first half at Ridgefield. It’s his 2nd season-ending ACL injury; the first came last year, in the first 20 minutes of the opening contest at Central. Douglas also missed most of his sophomore varsity season with a back injury. It’s a tribute to his leadership that his teammates selected him as co-captain this season — and he was there on the sideline, supporting them vocally.
The midfield was bolstered though by the return of Murilo Moreno. The junior missed 3 games with a concussion. His steady prsence, deft touch and excellent vision helped drive the Wreckers’ creative, quick-passing play this afternoon.
Staples sometimes employs a short corner kick. But in the 16th minute Graham Barnes laced one into the box. It fell to the feet of defender Jackson Hochhauser, for an easy tap-in.
The hosts were in command through much of the first half. But keeper Enzo Valadares came up big the few times he was tested, including a late breakaway.
One mark of the Wreckers’ season has been an inability to hold a lead. The 2-0 halftime advantage today was the same as 5 days earlier, at Tiger Hollow. Would they once again let their opponents back in a match>
Not at all. Staples continued to press, win midfield battles, keep a high defensive line, and switch fields. Zach Pulichino sent George Smith forward, for what was almost the 3rd goal. In the 58th minute a Barnes-to-Haydn Siroka combination nearly struck paydirt.
In the 65th minute Hochhauser played a ball over the top. The keeper came out, but Fiore rounded him. His long shot caromed in off the underside of the crossbar.
With a firm 3-0 lead, the Wreckers substituted liberally. There was no let-up — particularly on defense, where Kyle Rotolo, Ben Douglas, Haran Eiger and Aaron Jaffe held down the fort, and Sebi Montoulieu made 2 outstanding point-blank saves.
“It was nice to play a full 80 minutes today,” said head coach Dan Woog. “The play today was a direct result of the past few training sessions. As (assistant coach) Kurt Dasbach always says, ‘Trust the process.’ Our guys are trusting the process, for sure.”
The next home-and-away series begins Wednesday, at Brien McMahon (4:30 p.m.). The Senators sit 2nd in the Central region, with a 3-1-1 mark. The top 2 teams receive byes when the post-season “experience” begins next month. FINAL SCORE: Staples 3, Ridgefield 0. SEASON RECORD: 2-2-2.
QUICK KICKS: Mike Carey was the WWPT guest announcer for today’s livestream. A member of Staples’ FCIAC champion, 19-1-1 2000 team, he’s now a producer on NFL games for NBC Sports ….
After each of his 2 goals, Alan Fiore lifted his shirt. Underneath, his t-shirt read “4” — a tribute to the uniform number of co-captain Jack Douglas, out for the season with an ACL tear ….
The reserves lost a close, exciting and very well-played game to Ridgefield, 1-0 on Saturday. Ben Tanen came on well in goal after an injury to Jacob Greenberger. Aidan Mermagen, Timothy Liakh, Spencer Levine and Alex Laskin also looked particularly strong.