Published on October 20th, 2017 | by Staples Soccer0
Match Report: Staples vs. New Canaan
Two 2nd-half goals — one by Patricio Perez Elorza, the other by Timmy Liles — and a penalty kick save by Ry Cohen with the score still 1-0 powered Staples over New Canaan today.
The win — coupled with Central’s 1-1 draw with Trumbull, and Ridgefield’s 5-1 defeat of Westhill — assures the Wreckers of an FCIAC playoff berth. The 8-team tournament begins Thursday, October 26. Exact seedings will be determined after Monday’s final regular season games. Staples hosts St. Joseph (4 p.m.) on Senior Day.
Today’s match was the 1st-ever played by any team — including the Rams — on their new turf field, behind their tennis courts.
There was much on the line for both sides. The Wreckers — mired in a 4-game scoring drought — needed a win both psychologically and in the FCIAC playoff race. New Canaan had to gain 4 points — a win and a tie — in their final 2 matches to qualify for the state tournament.
The never-before-touched “water tower field” is enormous. The turf plays like real grass — not the too-fast surface of old “astroturf.”
The Rams traditionally play Staples by bunkering in, hoping for a counterattack goal. Their attack has been bolstered this year by former Development Academy player Alex Zarikos. The striker has been on fire lately, scoring 2 hat tricks in his previous 2 games (including a 3-1 upset of league-leading Ridgefield), and 10 in his last 7.
Staples elected not to man-mark the senior. But they were careful not to let him get inside, either.
The 1st half saw the visitors squander several chances through offside calls. Their best opportunities came off a Sam Liles cross to Will Birch; a free kick by birthday boy Anton Mahr off the cross, and a late flurry of shots.
Cohen, meanwhile, came out hard in the 37th minute to smother Zarikos. The keeper then saved the ensuing corner kick.
The Wreckers got a huge adrenaline jolt 10 minutes past intermission. Timmy Liles — the hard-charging left midfielder who takes men on, delivers wicked services and has a blistering shot — came on for the 1st time in 4 games. He’d injured his foot 3 seconds before halftime against Stamford. Since he’d been sitting, Staples had not scored.
In the 60th minute Matt Engler found Timmy Liles. But the shot banged off the post.
A New Canaan mental error in the 64th minute — a back pass that the keeper picked up — gave the Westporters a great chance. The free kick from a few yards in front of the goal did not work — but it led to a corner kick.
Engler ripped it quickly into the goalmouth. Will Birch tried to shoot. The ball bounced crazily in the box. Perez Elorza pounced, scuffing it in.
It was his side’s 1st goal in 400 minutes. His teammates celebrated appropriately.
In the 68th minute, a defensive foul gave the Rams a great chance: a penalty kick. It was the 1st called against Staples all year — and Zarikos stood at the spot to take it.
But the Wreckers had an ace in the hole. Cohen figured out where the shot was going. He dove to his left, and saved the low, hard shot.
Energized, Staples scored a minute later. Sam Liles slotted a perfect pass; his brother finished calmly.
When the match ended, the Wreckers knew they’d taken a big step toward nailing down an FCIAC berth. As the bus pulled out of the New Canaan parking lot, they went to their cellphones and got the news. Central had done their best against Trumbull, but only drew. Ridgefield did as expected. Staples was in.
Now they just have to take care of business on Monday.
And in every game that follows. FINAL SCORE: Staples 2, New Canaan 0. SEASON RECORD: 7-4-4.
QUICK KICKS: Coach Nicky Hoberman’s reserves dropped a tough 2-1 decision to New Canaan. Both Ram goals came on penalty kicks; keeper Kevin Lindwall saved a 3rd. Wilson Daniels got the Wrecker goal….
The freshmen shut out New Canaan 8-0. Coach Russell Oost-Lievense and Reilly Lynch’s boys finish their season at 8-4-1.