Staples soccer clinches FCIAC playoff spot
Updated 9:11 am, Saturday, October 24, 2015
After a strong start to the season, a rough patch in form threatened to leave the Staples boys soccer team out in the cold in a crowded FCIAC playoff race.
The difficult stretch concluded with a 2-1 loss to Warde on Monday, which extended the Wreckers’ winless run to five matches. At that point Staples believed it needed to win each of its last three games to be assured of a playoff spot, but results elsewhere ensured just two wins were required.
The Wreckers wrapped up their FCIAC playoff spot for the eighth straight year with a 4-0 win over Stamford on Friday at Loeffler Field. Staples — which beat Trinity Catholic 8-0 on Wednesday — finishes its season on Monday at Danbury, but won’t need a result from the tricky trip to extend the season.
“It’s definitely a big relief,” said forward Daniel Perez Elorza. “I think we started the season out on fire, and then we had a couple of setbacks. We were able to overcome it early enough that we got the chance to qualify. It’s a whole new tournament now.”
“It was a great effort, a total team win,” said coach Dan Woog. “They knew what they had to do and they did it. We kept the ball on the ground into a stiff wind and with a stiff wind. We used the whole field and everybody.”
Now in the field of eight, Staples will look to do more damage than reaching the semifinals as it did a year ago. The narrative all season has been the parity of the league, which the players on the field have felt with one competitive match after another.
“Last year there were a few games that were easier,” said midfielder Jack Zeldes. “This year every team was so solid; they either have a really good attack or a good defense. Every day is a battle; I think that will help us in the postseason.”
Squandering late leads — Staples led in four of the five games it didn’t win prior to the Trinity match — has been the one Achilles heel for the Wreckers in 2015, and improvement in that area might be the key to bringing home a championship.
“We have to play smart,” Perez Elorza said. “This year we haven’t been playing smart in the second half of games. The other key is staying healthy; injuries beat us down last year and we’ve been healthy throughout.”