Sometimes the ball bounces your way.
Staples High's boys soccer team can certainly attest to that following Saturday's 2-1 win at FCIAC foe St. Joseph. The Wreckers scored two goals -- both off fortuitous deflections -- only 1:10 apart in the second half for a 2-0 lead, and held off the Cadets to improve to 3-1-1 on the season. The Cadets dropped to 1-2-1 despite putting pressure on the Wreckers late in the match.
Staples scored 11:25 into the second half when Andrew Puchala banged home a shot assisted by Joseph Pravder. The goal came after a sequence in which two Wreckers -- George Kokkalis and Charles Leonard -- hit the post.
Just over a minute later, the Wreckers benefitted from an own goal after Steven Sobel sent a cross into the 18-yard box. A Cadets defender jumped to clear the ball with his head, but sent it back into his own goal.
"It happens. We've been on both sides of that," Staples coach Dan Woog said of the own goal.
St. Joseph trimmed the lead in half on a goal by Matthew Reis 19:28 into the second half.
The Cadets tried to break through for the equalizer, but a strong defense keyed by goalkeeper Noah Schwaeber (eight saves) turned them aside. St. Joseph keeper Erik Lewicki made six stops.
Woog was pleased with how his team performed, especially under the circumstances. Staples was without four starters, and some of the players competed out of position to compensate. Junior Nate Argosh got his first varsity start, and sophomore Kenji Goto logged his first varsity playing time.
What's more, Woog pointed out, is that St. Joseph is fielding its best team in a long time.
"They got the job done. It was fun to see," he said of his team.
The Wreckers set out to effectively cut down the size of the field on its opponent by minimizing passing lanes and open space, Woog and Puchala noted. Both said the team succeeded in its goal.
"As a team, we're trying to stay compact, shrink down the field and give the other team less space," Puchala said.
"We always like to have numbers behind the ball. We like to shrink the field," Woog added.
Puchala believes that the victory was one of the team's best on the young season.
"It feels really nice," Puchala said of the win. "We finally pulled together; we got more organized as a team."
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
Staples 2, St. Joseph 1
STAPLES 0 2 -- 2
ST. JOSEPH 0 1 -- 1
Records: Staples 3-1-1, St. Joseph 1-2-1.