Published on November 7th, 2014 | by Staples Soccer0
Staples vs. Darien: State Tournament Quarterfinals (Game Report)
Less than 48 hours after an emotional and dramatic come-from-way-behind 4-3 victory over West Haven, the Wreckers took the field for the LL state tournament quarterfinal round.
Though longtime FCIAC rivals, Staples and Darien did not meet this year. With 19 league teams and a state-mandated 16-game regular season, each school misses 2 opponents. Fielding a team that’s been building together for 3 years, the Blue Wave promoted this match on Facebook and other social media as a huge event. Students poured out of school even before the final bell, and — with very limited seating — camped on a small hill to cheer their side on.
The 11th-ranked Wavers were missing 14-goal scorer Kai Bjornstad (torn ACL in the final 5 minutes of their penalty kick win at Shelton on Wednesday). Staples — seeded 19th — was without defender Jack Zeldes (hamstring injury at West Haven, also on Wednesday).
A strong wind whipped across the turf field. Darien won the coin toss, and chose to attack with it at their backs.
Their bang-it-forward style worked well with the wind. They had the run of play for much of the half. Staples hoped to get out of the 1st 40 minutes with the score tied. Thanks to 2 excellent saves by keeper Noah Schwaeber, they did.
But the wind played no role 2 minutes after intermission. A long ball by Henrik Stockinger, a failed clearance and poor communication on defense got the Wavers on the scoreboard. It was disheartening — but the Wreckers had 38 minutes to get it back.
They almost did 2 minutes later, off a corner kick. They had other chances off set pieces, by Michael Reid.
But time ticked down. Patrick Beusse did yeoman’s work at midfield, coming back to win balls and roaring forward with Nate Argosh and Denzel Robinson. Daniel Reid dropped into an outside back role, augmenting Kenji Goto and Gabe Pensak.
But the Wavers’ Hunter Kooyman added another, 12 minutes from time, on a great long shot.
Staples fought valiantly to the end, creating a couple of excellent chances. This time though, there were no last-minute heroics. There was only the heartbreak of a season that — after a storybook run of 8 wins in the previous 10 matches — ended brutally short.
“I feel so badly for our guys,” said head coach Dan Woog. “The seniors gave everything they had to this team, and the younger guys followed their lead fantastically. They have so much to be proud of — a couple of amazing come-from-behind wins, superb wins against Greenwich and Danbury, a great run in the state tournament. We let a couple of games get away from us early, so as lower seeds in the FCIAC and state tournaments we played our last 5 games on the road. But it was a fantastic run, with a superb group of young men. I admire them greatly. It was an honor to coach them.” FINAL SCORE: Darien 2, Staples 0. FINAL SEASON RECORD: 12-7-2.
QUICK KICKS: This was the 1st time Staples was shut out since Westhill, 12 games ago….
Both teams had 9 shots today. The Wreckers led in corner kicks 5-2….
In other LL action involving FCIAC teams, #9 Danbury upset #1 Suffield 2-1 on penalty kicks (3-2), while #12 Greenwich fell to #4 Farmington 2-1 in overtime. Meanwhile, in class M, #29 St. Joseph shut out #12 Granby 2-0 to reach the semifinals….
Staples graduates only 7 seniors: tri-captains Patrick Beusse, Michael Reid and Andrew Puchala, plus Nate Argosh, Matt Bateman, Gabe Pensak and Denzel Robinson. They return 10 juniors and 9 sophomores.