Wreckers advance to FCIAC finals, defeat Cardinals 1-0
In the FCIAC semifinals, the top-seeded Staples boys soccer team arguably played its best overall game of the season and overcame a tough and determined fourth-seeded Greenwich team, 1-0 at Fairfield Ludlowe High on Monday. The importance of this match was crystal clear against an FCIAC rival.
By winning this game, Staples goes into its second consecutive FCIAC Championship tonight against another top rival, second-seeded Ridgefield. This will also be the Wreckers' third FCIAC championship game in four years and its 26th overall.
As coach Dan Woog restated to his team for the umpteenth time, "If we hold them to zero, then we only need one [goal]," and one is what the Wreckers got on a fantastic pass and shoot combination from junior Mikey Scott to a racing senior Mikey Fitzgerald. With about 13 minutes gone in the second half, Scott put up a short corner kick to senior captain Andrew McNair who sent it right back to Scott. After some nifty moves on the pressing Greenwich defensemen, Scott placed a perfect pass in front to a charging Fitzgerald who slammed in a blistering winner for the game winner. Fitzgerald is normally a stalwart defender but as Woog said, "Fitzgerald always has a green light to move forward and press for a score."
While that was the only scoring in the contest, the rest of the game was also played at the highest skill level and will be remembered as another Staples/Greenwich classic. The Staples boys played a total match throughout from one end of the field to the other. Michael McCarthy made some fantastic saves in some tough situations (Staples out shot Greenwich, 22-12) and after the game said, "they tested us early which gave us the confidence we needed to keep them down." In fact, the Wrecker defensive foursome of senior captain Jack Hennessy and juniors Frankie Bergonzi, Sean Gallagher and Steven Denowitz put up a seamless wall of defense that even the tricky-footed Greenwich forwards couldn't penetrate. Bergonzi said that "we always work on communication and that paid off tonight." He also had praise for the Greenwich center forward, who Bergonzi called "phenomenal."
Woog had nothing but praise for what he calls his "maestros of the midfield" who again stepped up big for this important victory. Captain Alan Reiter, junior Brendan Lesch, senior Matteo Marzoli and the man renowned for his throw-ins, Scott, controlled the center of the field all night long. As usual, McNair seemed to be everywhere, feeding his teammates and pushing the action forward. Junior Greg Gudis and senior captain Mike both had fantastic games and when they team up with Lesch, Marzoli and Scott, the field comes alive with action and excitement. This is an extremely well coached and disciplined team that Bergonzi said "has played together for a long, long time."
When asked why this team is so special in Staples long history of great soccer teams, Woog said without hesitation, "Balance is special with this team. They take pride in everything they do and it shows in the final results."
Ridgefield won the other semifinal, 3-0 over Bridgeport Central, setting up another classic final tonight at Norwalk High at 7.