Despite winning 5-1 on Monday, the Wreckers knew it was a lackluster performance. They vowed that today — against always-solid Ridgefield, coming off a strong 5-3 victory over Wilton — would be different.
Intermittent rain made Loeffler Field slick. Balls skipped; running was tough. But Staples started out strongly — so strongly, in fact, that just 4:35 into the match, they scored.
Terence Gibbons — making his 1st start, at midfield — played a ball to Lorenz Esposito. The junior drove into the corner, juked a defender, and delivered a perfect cross. Ben Root — a back, racing forward — poked it home for a quick lead.
The goal galvanized the Wreckers, and they parlayed it into their best half of the season. Steve Smith — playing his best game in a Staples uniform — laid balls off in all directions from midfield. Kyle Hoberman — also making his 1st start — provided a powerful presence next to him.
Dylan Evans saw more services than he had previously, and took advantage by roaring up the left side. Esposito, Gibbons and then David Hoffman provided punch up top.
Staples had several more chances throughout the half — with the best ones coming from Smith and defender Jake Malowitz — but the Ridgefield keeper was equal to the task.
The 1st part of the 2nd half belonged to the Tigers. They mounted plenty of pressure, but Root, Malowitz, Taylor McNair, Harry Birch and Alex Tonsberg were organized and tough. They defended as a unit, covered well, made smart decisions about when to go and when to hold, and worked the ball out of the back with poise and control.
With keeper James Hickok commanding well — and saving 2 hard shots — they absorbed what Ridgefield threw at them, then regained control of both tempo and territory.
Diego Alanis, Phil Foisie, Noah Bender, Joe Greenwald and Aaron Liu all came off the bench to spark Staples.
The Wreckers managed the game to the end — then managed the mass of reporters and happy fans who descended on them.
They have little time to celebrate — Norwalk looms on Friday — but this Staples squad is proving to be a gritty, gutsy bunch. They’ve now played 5 matches — and 3 have been 1-0 wins.
“We’ll take it,” said head coach Dan Woog. “We have tremendous faith in James and our backs. We defend as a team, and attack as a team. We’ve got no superstars — different heroes each game.
“The guys like each other, they support each other, and the team chemistry is great to see. We’re having a good time every day, and that’s what it’s all about.” FINAL SCORE: Staples 1, Ridgefield 0. Season record: 5-0-0.
QUICK KICKS: Ridgefield’s junior varsity won the battle of midfield, and the game by a 2-0 count….
In the large and wet crowd at the game: former timekeeper and longtime Staples soccer supporter Dave Harrison P’91, who now lives in New Hampshire, and Neil Brickley ’71, with his son Robert — both former University of Connecticut captains.