It’s never easy playing Central at Kennedy Stadium, with its hard, fast, balls-bounce-high-and-far Astroturf.
It’s harder still when you played a game 24 hours earlier, as the Wreckers just did.
And it’s particularly tough when you’re missing 2 starters — Joe Greenwald (injury) and Jack Scott (sick) — as Staples was.
The blue-and-whites made a few tweaks to their starting lineup. Yousef Shahin and George Kokkalis manned the outside back positions. Diego Alanis lined up at right midfield, while Ryan Petersen got the nod up top.
The Wreckers went on the attack from the start. Their pressure paid off in the 10th minute. Alanis hit Peterson, who laid off smartly to Noah Bender. His shot was saved nicely by keeper Jesus Barragan, but Andrew Travers was right there to power the rebound home.
Staples continued to threaten. Travers had several chances. Kokallis sent a ball over the top that Ethan Bradeen ran onto well. Travers’ hard work almost paid off, but defender Andrew Puchala hit his shot just high. Jordan McNair forced a corner kick; Alanis’ shot led to another corner, which he almost scored on.
Keeper James Hickok was forced into one tough decision, with 30 seconds in the half. He chose to fly through and save with a long kick — exactly the right choice.
The Westporters continued pressing after intermission. Travers’ through ball to Petersen was saved. Travers went in alone, but hit wide. Greg Shikowitz had a good chance; Travers caromed a ball off the post; Charlie Leonard almost slipped through; McNair, Alanis and Joe Pravder’s pressure nearly paid off, and Bradeen’s toe poke came close.
In the 70th minute, the dam broke. Pravder — the freshman — worked up the sideline. Shahin and Puchala raced forward, out of the back. Chaos ensued in the box, with Puchala — a sophomore — finishing for his 2nd goal in 2 days.
Thirty-one seconds later, it was 3-0. Sam Koenig fed Alanis, on another well-timed play.
The coup de grace came less than 2 minutes later. Nate Argosh — another sophomore — and Connor Weiler combined well, allowing fellow junior Charlie Leonard to ram in his 1st varsity goal.
The 3-goals-in-2:27 outburst sparked Staples. With stalwarts like Harry Birch resting, and Hickok organizing the entire field, they held tight. Matt Liebergall, Jon Denowitz and Patrick Beusse tightened up on defense, ensuring the shutout.
“What a nice team effort,” praised head coach Dan Woog. “All 20 healthy guys contributed — and worked very, very hard. We saw several good new combinations, and our goals came from good slots and smart follow-ups.
“Wilton (Saturday — Alumni Day — 12 noon at Loeffler Field) will be our toughest test yet. But we’re playing with confidence, and that means a lot.” Final score: Staples 4, Central 0. Season record: 2-1-0.
QUICK KICKS: Staples led in shots 21-3….
The junior varsity scored 6 goals for the 3rd straight time this year, topping Central 6-1. Goals came from Foster Goldberg (2), Andreas Refvik, Sterling Price, Ryan Ruggiano and Mathias Henriksen. Refvik, Daniel Boyce, Robby Giannone and Steve Sobel added assists.