By Jon Chik

jchik@bcnnew.com

There was plenty on the line Friday afternoon at Dunning Stadium at New Canaan High School, as the New Canaan boys soccer team played host to the Staples. In a game which carried tremendous postseason ramifications, the Wreckers squeaked past the Rams 1-0.

For a game which featured 22 shots, 11 corner kicks, three shots that smacked off the goal post and countless scoring opportunities for both squads, it was difficult to believe that the final score was merely 1-0 in Staples' favor.

"I am really proud of them, not just for the win against a great New Canaan team, but certainly for coming back from that 3-0 disaster against Westhill [on Wednesday]," Staples coach Dan Woog said. "We forced them to take a lot of long range shots, which is what we wanted to do."

Staples kept the ball deep in New Canaan territory for most of the first half, but Rams' goalie Scott Levene and the rest of the New Canaan defense were up to the task of keeping the game scoreless through the first 26 minutes.

Then, with 13:13 remaining in the half, Staples broke through. David Hoffman sent a lead pass to Maxwell Hoberman, who dribbled in one-on-one against Levene and buried his shot.

"We've been working on that play all throughout the season, and it all started at practice," Hoberman said. "I decided to go near post on a terrific goalie and it just went in, and we got the 1-0 lead and kept it."

With Staples concentrating on defense for the majority of the second half, New Canaan was afforded several excellent scoring opportunities. However, solid goalkeeping by Staples' James Hickok (seven saves) combined with a little bit of luck kept New Canaan off the scoreboard.

With 23 minutes remaining, New Canaan's John-Luke Ferrandino took in a pass from Nick Deambrosio, but his shot hit the left post.

Minutes later, New Canaan (7-2-5) was awarded a corner kick. Tom Pritchard go the to Ferrandino, who's shot bounced off the inside of the left cross bar before being cleared out of harm's way by Trumbull's Jacob Malowitz.

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"At least we had the opportunities. That's a positive thing that I took from today," New Canaan coach Victor Sanchez said. "We had the opportunities, but we just didn't capitalize. We haven't started strong, but as long as we end the season right, we'll get ourselves into the FCIAC's."

With about four minutes remaining, it was Staples' (9-2-3) turn to be denied by the post -- and Levene -- as Joseph Greenwald's shot was partially deflected by Levene before hitting the crossbar and falling out of play.

New Canaan gets another tough game at Norwalk on Monday at 7 p.m. Staples is back in action on Monday at home against Danbury.

"We've got to come out strong and forget about the outcome of this game," said Steven Valente, who narrowly missed the tying goal with a wide shot in the second half. "Luck wasn't on our side today. We fought hard but just couldn't finish."