Staples boots Trinity Catholic soccer
In recent memory, the Staples boys soccer team has had no trouble handling the Trinity Catholic Crusaders.
Last year, the goals were plentiful as Staples trounced Trinity, 7-0. This year's matchup saw much of the same as the Wreckers dominated the Crusaders in a 5-1 road victory and raised their record to 4-0. Trinity dropped to 0-3.
Staples came off a hard-fought victory 1-0 at Wilton, where it ably kept possession and moved the ball around the field as it waited for the right opportunity to attack. However, as well as the Wreckers played against Wilton, they opened up just as poorly against Trinity.
Junior striker Lorenz Esposito thought the exciting Wilton victory had something to do with it and said, "We were still thrilled from last game and took Trinity for granted as an easy win and didn't prepare ourselves well."
Despite the sloppy play in the early going, the Wreckers still were able to strike first just eight minutes in. Junior goalkeeper James Hickok has a strong punt on any field, and the small dimensions of the Trinity field accentuated that. His clear found the head of junior Dylan Hoy, who headed it onto Esposito, who calmly slotted the ball home to put Staples ahead.
Although they had a goal in the bag, the Wreckers reverted to the careless passing they had exhibited in the early going. As the half progressed, the more susceptible the Wreckers appeared on the defensive end. Just as Hickok had used the cozy confines to his advantage on the Staples goal, Trinity took advantage of them on its equalizer. A throw-in found the head of 7-1 striker Paschal Chukwu, who was able to direct the ball past Hickok for the first goal the Wreckers allowed all season.
Despite allowing a goal, Staples seemed unfazed and seven minutes later, it regained the lead. David Hoffman scored the go-ahead goal off an Alex Tonsberg cross. Staples tried to keep building off that momentum, and it added a goal before the half as Noah Bender made a dangerous run into the corner, where he played a low pass that was easily finished by Terrence Gibbons.
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For most teams, a 3-1 half time lead is something to feel good about. But not the Wreckers - the three-time defending FCIAC champions. Head coach Dan Woog remarked on the first half and said, "We definitely looked flat in the first half. No excuses -- FCIAC soccer is a long, hard season. It's as tough mentally as it is physically. If this team expects to go far, they've got to be on their game every day, no matter what the conditions or the situations."
In the second half, the goals were not as plentiful for the Wreckers, but their play seemed to calm down as they possessed nicely and worked the ball around the field. Their hard work paid off when in the 60th minute, a long Taylor McNair free kick found its way through the Trinity defense and in the lap of Hoffman, who put it away for his second goal of the match.
When the Wreckers' play improved on offense, their defense followed suit. Ethan Bradeen and Aaron Liu came up big as fill-ins for usual starters Harry Birch, who was out with a family commitment, and Jake Malowitz, who was out due to sickness.
The scoring closed out with Kyle Hoberman, who had been scrapping hard and playing well in the midfield the entire second half. The Crusaders gave Hoberman far too much room to dribble up the center, and a rip from the top of the 18 was too much for Trinity goalie Chris Heffernan to handle.
It wasn't the prettiest win, but the Wreckers will take it. Woog looked back on the strong second half and said, "I was pleased that we played a much better second half. The guys who were on the field really took what we said to heart. And, as we always say, it's not how you start, it's how you finish."