Staples boys soccer settles for draw with Ridgefield
Updated 11:32 am, Thursday, September 19, 2013
Ridgefield boys soccer coach Phil Bergen considered Wednesday's trip to Staples his team's first test of the young season.
And given his program's lack of success on the Wreckers' home pitch over the last decade, Bergen was content with how the most recent meeting between the two squads ended.
Ridgefield's Ryan Meegan blasted home an equalizer off a cross from Konstantinos Kouroupas in the 68th minute to help the Tigers settle for a 2-2 draw with Staples at Loeffler Field.
"It's not easy coming out here in their territory and winning, so a tie is fair," Bergen said. "I think in my 10 years, I've only tied twice or lost every game here."
For much of the second half, a draw seemed in doubt against a rigid Staples back line. The Wreckers grabbed a 2-1 advantage on an own goal off a corner kick in the 48th minute, then held firm on defense.
The Tigers recorded only two of their 11 shots after halftime -- one off Meegan's foot to earn their seventh point in three matches (2-0-1) this season.
"We have a lot of pace in the wings and big kids up front," Meegan said. "Eventually if you keep swinging them in, you'll get one (goal)."
Staples' Diego Alanis notched an equalizer to make it 1-1 in the 38th minute, then nearly gave his team the lead in the waning moments of the second half. The senior found himself on a breakaway in the 90th minute, but his shot was batted aside by Ridgefield goalkeeper Nicholas Steer.
"Tremendous," Bergen said of Steer's last-minute save. "We owe him everything. That would've been it."
Staples, which was coming off a 3-2 defeat to Harding on Monday -- the program's second loss to the Presidents dating to 1997 -- instead settled for one point Wednesday (2-1-1) following the save.
"Tomorrow I'm actually going to go early to practice and I'm going to practice that shot at least 20 times," Alanis said. "Next time that's going to go in. It's not going to happen again."
Both Staples' goals came off corner kicks, with Alanis blasting home the Wreckers' first goal near the far post off a boot from Joe Pravder. The Wreckers took a one-goal lead early in the second half when their corner kick sailed into a crowd and into the net off a Ridgefield defender.
Although the Wreckers earned only one point instead of three, Staples coach Dan Woog called the draw against the perennial contender his team's "best effort" of the season.
"They're a real good team," Woog said of Ridgefield. "Our goal is to meet them again down the line, perhaps twice. We knew they were very, very tough."
Staples fell behind 1-0 just six minutes in when Ridgefield's Adam Findlay headed in a corner off the foot of Matthew Wilson. The Tigers held the advantage in possession early and had a 5-1 edge in shots, but didn't do much else against goalkeeper Noah Schwaeber (two saves).
The Wreckers, who have been effective off corner kicks this season, found a way to respond.
"We work at them, and we work at defending against them, which is why we were surprised that we gave up that early goal," Woog said. "But these things happen. I did not see one head go down after the goal. I did not see any despondency. They just went back to work and got not only one back, but two back."
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Ridgefield 2, Staples 2
RIDGEFIELD 1 1 -- 2
STAPLES 1 1 -- 2
Records: Ridgefield 2-0-1; Staples 2-1-1
Goals: R -- Adam Findlay, Ryan Meegan; S -- Diego Alanis, Own goal. Assists: R -- Matthew Wilson, Matthew Mazzola; S -- Joe Pravder. Goalies: R -- Nicholas Steer (4 saves); S -- Noah Schwaeber (2). Shots: R -- 11; S -- 8.