Published on September 24th, 2021 | by Staples Soccer0
Match Report: Staples vs. Westhill
More than in any other ball-and-net game, every soccer goal is important. One shot — taken well or not taken at all; a strike or a scuff; saved brilliantly or let in as a howler — can mean the difference between a victory, a draw or a loss. One goal — a win instead of a tie; a tie rather than a loss — can even determine the outcome of an entire season.
The Wreckers arrived at Westhill this afternoon without a goal in the previous 5 halves. Fortunately — thanks to stout defense and excellent goalkeeping — they had not surrendered one in the last 2 matches. The twin 0-0 deadlocks came against Greenwich and Danbury, a pair of quality opponents.
So Staples was concerned about their scoring drought. Not panic-stricken. But it was definitely on their minds.
By the end of the first half — again scoreless — things got a bit more worrisome.
Playing on fast turf, the Westporters got more service into the box than in past games. But too many shots were rushed, forced, or never fired — the result of too many touches in and around the box.
The Vikings, meanwhile, had few chances. Defenders Jackson Hochhauser, Bruno Guiduli, Hunter Smith and — making his first start in back — Caleb Tobias knocked the ball around confidently and well. But keeper Jacob Greenberger was forced into a very difficult save midway through the first half, when a Westhill midfielder fired a quick, high shot from midfield.
The coaches and — more importantly — the players themselves talked about urgency, commitment and passion at halftime. Their words — and the insertion of Avery Mueller at midfield, making his varsity debut — sparked a much different second half.
Eight minutes after intermission, Hunter Smith’s long throw bounced around to Jaden Mueller. He played it forward. Dylan Hoke’s shot bounced off a defender. Reese Watkins found it 6 yards from goal, and finished firmly.
The blue-and-whites celebrated wildly. Then they settled down to build — and protect — their lead.
They were in command, helped by 2 more substitutions. Tim Liakh came on at midfield, while Ben Douglas joined the back line.
Staples did need to weather a few corner kicks though, and a difficult moment in the 59th minute. Greenberger was called for handling a pass back from a defender. The indirect kick was awarded just 2 yards from goal. The Wreckers packed the goal line — and blasted the Vikes’ attempt out of danger.
The guests nearly tacked on an insurance goal, but Tobias’ shot off a Watkins feed flew just a few inches wide.
“These are the game we’ve got to gut out,” said head coach Dan Woog. “We kept our cool, kept up the pressure, and the goal came.” It was the one goal the Wreckers needed. And in soccer, sometimes that’s all it takes. FINAL SCORE: Staples 1, Westhill 0. SEASON RECORD: 3-0-2.
QUICK KICKS: Next up: Wilton, home at Loeffler Field on Tuesday (4 p.m.)….
Today’s match was played in Walter J. Kennedy Stadium. That was the first time in a while for Staples; several previous contests were on the very narrow turf field in front of the school.