NORWALK -- Just moments after Staples High became the latest in a long line of teams to fall to Norwalk this season, head coach Dan Woog echoed a sentiment that's surely on the mind of others around the FCIAC.
"They're fast, they're quick, they're strong, they're relentless. If there's a better team in the state, I don't want to see them," said Woog, following the Wreckers' 2-0 loss to Norwalk on Monday evening at Testa Field. "I have voted for them No. 1 and I will continue to do so."
Norwalk senior center midfielder Michal Nowicki scored with 13:27 left and Nacho Navarro added a goal just over five minutes later as Norwalk improved to 7-0 on the season.
"Staples really came at us and threw us off our rhythm a little bit. I'm just proud of the guys for sticking with the game plan and continuing to play our style of soccer, and know that eventually it would pay off," Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said. "We had to wait a while to get those goals, but it was worth it in the end."
Norwalk remained patient, yet aggressive after a scoreless first half and finally broke through on a crisp touch pass in the box from sophomore Jose Canahui to the left foot of Nowicki.
"Canahui made a great run forward, played a great ball through and I just finished," Nowicki said. "He did all the work. He deserves most of the credit."
Norwalk, which outshot Staples 8-4, doubled its lead with 7:44 left on a failed clear. Navarro collected a ball near the top of the box off a deflection and blasted a shot past goalkeeper James Hickok.
Staples fell to 3-3 on the season with the loss, but Woog credited his young team for competing step for step with a Norwalk program that's finished the last two years with the FCIAC's best record.
"This was a huge step up for our guys. We started a number of underclassmen. ¦ They stepped up big time," said Woog, whose team graduated nine starters from a year ago. "They stepped up defensively, they stepped up physically. Most of them went 80 minutes.
"I couldn't be more prouder of my guys."
For Norwalk, junior goalkeeper Svet Kozak made two saves as the Bears notched their third straight shutout and fifth this season.
"Our back line has been phenomenal this year," Laughton said. "Those guys have worked really well together. They take a lot of pride on shutting teams out. In the last few years we've been giving up a lot of goals and scoring a lot of goals. Our team's much more sound in the back than we've been."
Hickok made four saves for Staples.
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NORWALK 2, STAPLES 0
STAPLES 0 0--0
NORWALK 0 2--2
Records: Staples 3-3; Norwalk 7-0.
Goals: N--Michal Nowicki, Nacho Navarro. Assists: N--Jose Canahui, Santiago Muriel. Goalies: S--James Hickok (4 saves); N--Svet Kozak (2). Shots: S--4; N--8.