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Published on September 19th, 2022 | by Staples Soccer


Staples Snags Wild Westhill Win: Match Report vs. Westhill

Staples soccer’s first 4 matches this season were interesting.

Today’s was insane.

The Wreckers played the first of what will be all their remaining home games at Wakeman Field. They had been looking very solid defensively; offensively, they hoped to break a scoring drought.

Westhill started the season with losses to Trumbull and Darien — the later a wild 6-3 affair, followed by a draw with Brien McMahon and a 5-0 win over Bridgeport Center.

The hosts showed an intriguing lineup. Head coach Russell Oost-Lievense moved a pair of outside defenders — Hunter Smith and Adam Syah — up top. Both attacked well out of the back; the hope was that they could jump-start the offense with their speed and crosses. Campbell Gerrard, who had a strong match in Danbury, earned his first start on defense.

The Vikings had a brisk wind at their backs, to start. Their midfield held their own, and their attackers were pesky. But the possession belonged mostly to Staples, and in the 33rd minute they got a long-awaited goal. Avery Mueller’s corner kick slipped through the keeper’s hands. An attempted clearance was kept in play by the Wreckers. Dylan Hoke found the ball in a goalmouth scrum, and headed home.

Their first tally in over 250 minutes sparked Staples. Just 1:12 into the second half, Hoke found Mueller. The junior finished authoritatively, to the bottom right.

Five minutes later, it was 3-0. Cormac Mulvey’s cross found Matt Shackelford. He shouldered the ball in, for a seemingly secure lead.

With the blue-and-whites playing their trademark ball control game — keyed by the confident, work-it-around passing of defenders Mulvey, Gerrard, Syah (moved back after intermission) and always-steady Ben Douglas — the Wreckers forged ahead.

A controversial penalty kick call in the 59th minute was converted by Westhill.

But that bump in the road turned into a bigger hill les than 2 minutes later. A defensive giveaway led to an easy Viking goal. With 19 minutes left, it was 3-2.

Six minutes after that, Westhill turned a poor clearance into the equalizer.

Now it was the visitors with the momentum. Ethan Cukier came on to add to the Staples offense.

With 11 minutes to play, the Vikes thought they’d gone ahead. But Staples had stepped alertly up, catching them offside.

The Wreckers came right back, as the game grew chippy. Mueller forced a corner kick; the keeper bobbled in a crowd. Cukier’s long, arcing shot was saved with 3 minutes left.

Staples remained focused. Suddenly, Shackelford picked up a loose ball 40 yards from goal. He took a couple of quick touches, then rocketed a shot to just inside the far post. It was one of the most dramatic strikes in the Wreckers’ 64-year history of them.

Westhill did not go down easily. But the Westporters managed the game in the final seconds, and emerged with 3 all-important points.

They had a lot to be pleased with. They doubled their goal-scoring output in their first 4 matches. They played to the end, and seized the opportunities they had.

But they were not pleased that they needed last-minute heroics.

They’ll remember all that when they take the field Thursday, at Wilton’s Kristine Lilly Field. Game time is 5 p.m. FINAL SCORE: Staples 4, Westhill 3. SEASON RECORD: 2-2-1.

QUICK KICKS: The reserves overpowered Westhill 5-0. Luca Caniato opened the scoring with a first-time left-footed strike off Chase Watkins’ feed. The floodgates opened in the second hafl. Sam Rossoni hit the crossbar, then tapped in his own rebound. Colin Stretton rounded the keeper for the third goal. Caniato got his second, alertly following up a saved shot. Jonny Costello finished the scoring with a remarkable free kick from 25 yards out ….

The freshmen dropped their first match of the season, 1-0 to Westhill.

Matt Shackelford (#27, between green pinnies) is mobbed by teammates after his late, long strike gives the Wreckers the win. (Photo/Mark Sikorski)


Westhill players object to Dylan Hoke’s goal. There was no question though: It stood. (Photo/Mark Sikorski)


Dylan Hoke covers plenty of ground at midfield. (Photo/Mark Sikorski)


Alex Laskin shows his instincts as a defensive midfielder. (Photo/Mark Sikorski)


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