Published on November 3rd, 2014 | by Staples Soccer0
Staples vs. East Hartford: State Tournament 1st Round (Game Report)
The scouting reports on East Hartford were all the same. The Hornets were tough. Between the twin threats of Rose Khalid and Harris Donovan — very quick with the ball, very quick to turn, very talented and very composed — plus dominant center back Frantz Innocent (son of the former University of Connecticut star and Eastern Connecticut State coach) — the upstaters were a formidable 1st round foe.
Every coach who Staples head coach Dan Woog talked to used the same word: “dangerous.” The Wreckers had their work cut out for them.
But the Staples coaches had a game plan. Kurt Dasbach and Tom Henske hammered it home, all last week, last night and today.
In the long history of the state “LL” (extra large schools) tournament, the 2 teams had met only once before (in 1991, a 2-0 Wrecker win). East Hartford’s grass football/soccer field was new to Staples. But they adapted quickly, and — after a rare 7-day layoff — the state tournament jitters soon eased.
Noah Schwaeber’s great breakaway save in the 8th minute on Emmanuel Agyemang sent a message: The blue-and-whites had come to play. Michael Reid set the tone at midfield. He shut down the twin threats defensively; he possessed elegantly, and he sprayed pinpoint passes to both corners. Josh Berman and Kenji Goto anchored the defense. Gabe Pensak and Jack Zeldes took care of the outsides. And everywhere, Staples pressured. Nate Argosh and Daniel Perez Elorza were particularly hard-working, always moving — and pesky — up top.
In the 15th minute, Pensak unleashed a long throw. The Wreckers knew that the Hornets seldom guarded the far post. Berman was there, power-heading in for an early lead.
Patrick Beusse — playing his best game ever in a Staples uniform — showed his value as a hard-running, wide-ranging leader in the 34th minute. He won a hard tackle, powered forward and laced a ball forward. Perez Elorza redirected it to Argosh, who tucked it in for a solid 2-0 lead.
Though the Hornets came out hard after intermission, the Wreckers were not done. With Denzel Robinson working the left side, and Daniel Reid the right, Staples pressed for another goal. They got it in the 48th minute — and it was a repeat of the 1st. Once again Pensak’s throw found Berman’s head, on the unmarked far side.
Beusse made another formidable run in the 51st minute. Perez Elorza’s shot came back out to Argosh’s foot, but it was just wide.
With the Westporters substituting liberally in the final 20 minutes — they knew they’d be playing again in 48 hours, at #3-seed West Haven — East Hartford had their best chances. A rocket by Donovan caromed off the post; later, a 2nd Hornet shot hit the other post. But the Wreckers — including Daniel Brill, Graham Gudis, Spencer Daniels, Teddy Lawrence and Grant Sirlin — hung tough to the end.
“We did exactly what we wanted to,” Woog said. “Our guys executed their game plan perfectly. They understood the keys to the win, and they got it done. It was almost as if they’d learned from Sun Tzu” — the Chinese military general who knew exactly what it took to win. FINAL SCORE: Staples 3, East Hartford 0. SEASON RECORD: 11-6-2.
QUICK KICKS: Staples’ 2nd round match against #3, 13-2-1 West Haven is set for Wednesday (tentative game time, 2 p.m.). The easterners had a 1st-round bye…
The Wreckers were the only LL team to upset a higher-ranked opponent in the 1st round. All other top seeds won….
Brian Burns ’94 and Liam Bohonnon ’08 were at the match. Liam helped lead the Wreckers’ summer trip to Vermont, while Brian took the group on a 5-mile trail run there.
In other LL state tournament scores, it was Norwich Free Academy 3, Westhill 1; Danbury 2, Fairfield Warde 1; Greenwich 10, Crosby 0; Simsbury 2, Brien McMahon 1; Norwalk 2, Trumbull 1 (penalty kicks, 5-3), and Darien 2, Stamford 1. Fairfield Ludlowe (#2) had a bye. In the L division, New Canaan shut out Platt Tech 2-0, while Guilford topped Wilton 2-0. In class M, St. Joseph downed Nonnewaug 2-0.
Staples led in shots, 16-7.