Staples forges late tie with Greenwich
One team walked off Loeffler Field on Tuesday afternoon feeling like it had won. The other felt like it lost.
Though the Staples and Greenwich boys soccer teams earned a point in the standings from their encounter, the Wreckers were able to celebrate slightly more as a header from Josh Berman with 2:14 left in the game denied the Cardinals the victory.
Greenwich (3-0-2) remained undefeated while the Wreckers (2-1-1) drew their first match of the season in a rematch of last year’s FCIAC semifinal won by the Cardinals.
“We didn’t play very well at all,” Greenwich coach Kurt Putnam said. “Today we didn’t play particularly well and yet we still feel like we’ve lost. I’ll take the small graces that there’s plenty of room for improvement.”
Berman rose highest to a long ball forward from Aidan Wisher from near the halfway line and looped a header into the far corner of Greenwich net. Earlier in the match Berman had an opportunity to score from nearly an identical position and had his header go high of the goal.
“It was a broken play off a throw-in,” Berman said of the goal. “We had plenty of players in the box; I got my head on it. I couldn’t give up another great ball by (Wisher) so I had to finish that one.”
The Wreckers defense largely held the dangerous Greenwich attack — which had scored 12 goals in its first four games — in check. Space was hard for both teams to discover, chances were few and far between and little separated them for the entire 80 minutes.
“Greenwich has a great player in Nick Bartels; they are great individual players and move great off the ball,” Berman said. “They’re going to be a problem for a lot of teams.”
Greenwich midfielder Alejandro MacLean unlocked the Wreckers defense with 21:44 left, when he followed up his own shot that was saved by goalie Noah Schwaeber. The scramble resulted in the goal, and one that appeared to give the Cardinals their fourth straight win.
“You know what you’re going to get with Staples,” Putnam said. “They’re going to be down your throat as soon as the whistle is blown; they’re not going to give you any time on the ball.”
Soon after the Cardinals had their next best chance of the match, but Staples defender Kenji Goto made a challenge inside the box to prevent what could have been a tap-in goal.
“Kenji is fantastic, he’s our go-to guy and I mean that both as a pun and literally,” Staples coach Dan Woog said. “He’s smart, he’s tough and a wonderful leader, and today he showed why he’s one of the best players in the league.”
But Berman had the last say with his header, giving the teams a point each in what figures to be a competitive run for a playoff spot.
“It’s a quarter of the way in,” Staples coach Dan Woog said. “This is going to be the tightest FCIAC race in years, if not in history. Everyone knows it; you pick up your one or three points where you can.”
GREENWICH 1, STAPLES 1
GREENWICH 0 1—1
STAPLES 0 1—1
Goals: G - Alejandro MacLean; S - Josh Berman; Assists: S - Aidan Wisher. Goalies: G - Jose Romero (1 save); S - Noah Schwaeber (5 saves).
Records: Greenwich 3-0-2; Staples 2-1-1