Staples boys soccer is a dynasty
Don't let Staples boys soccer coach Dan Woog hear you call his team a "dynasty," even though it's an appropriate way to describe the Wreckers.
Staples, once the envy of Connecticut soccer, is reclaiming that position and, in fact, can rightly lay claim to dynastic achievements after winning its third straight FCIAC title on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory over Fairfield Warde in the FCIAC finals. This is the Wreckers' fourth title in five years -- the last three they won outright. And Staples was the co-champion with Trumbull in 2006 after playing to a 0-0 tie.
"We don't use the D word," Woog said. "It's a tribute to the seniors for their leadership and they show the young guys what it's about. Four FCIAC championships in five years is something to be very proud of." Before Staples won the FCIAC championship outright in 2008, it was the first time the Westport team was the sole FCIAC champion in this millennium. The Wreckers were also co-champions in 2000 after playing Westhill to a 2-2 tie in the finals.
Staples has been the envy of the state when it began its soccer program in 1958. This is the Wreckers' 27th FCIAC title and they will begin their quest to capture their 13th state title, as well as repeating as Class LL champions, on Monday.
"We have a great group of guys and excellent fans," Staples senior tri-captain Brendan Lesch said. "We were able to win it all three years because we came together as a team."
Senior tri-captain Frankie Bergonzi said, "It's definitely a big accomplishment and very exciting."
Added Sean Gallagher, also a senior tri-captain, "The kids on the team for the last three years understand what it takes to win."
One reason for the team's success is that everyone is modest and credits their teammates for the victories before accepting individual plaudits.
"I credit [sophomore goalie] James Hickok, who played well in net, [junior defender] Jake Malowitz played great tonight, Frankie Bergonzi does everything right, and [senior defender] Steve Denowitz played great," Gallagher said. "Warde always plays well against us but we know what it takes to win as a team."
Westport's rich tradition in soccer also helps. Many boys sign up to play soccer in their formative years. According to Bergonzi, this Staples team started to play together when they were 9 or 10.
"We played together for a long time, have good chemistry, play together as a team we have talent to win games," he said.
"Everyone contributed," Woog said. "It's the Premier Soccer program and the WSA [Westport Soccer Association]. It's a community that strongly supports soccer and I hope the community is as proud as I am."
Staples players also know how to handle adversity, and picked up their game after a 1-2 start. Moreover, Woog runs a classy program on and off the field, stressing sportsmanship, which contributes to the victories and strong support from fans.
The Wreckers deservedly three-peated as FCIAC champions, but they still have unfinished business. With the way they are playing and good karma they deserve, I predict that on Nov. 20 they will proclaim, "mission accomplished," and win state title No. 13, outright.
"Now we're looking forward to winning the state tournament," Lesch said. "That's our next goal."