The 2nd season — the FCIAC tournament — began for the Wreckers today in the Greenwich football stadium. It was the 1st time Staples has played a quarterfinal away match in years — but the blue-and-whites were confident. They were coming off a thrilling 2-1 win in Danbury 2 nights earlier, and had shut out Greenwich 1-0 midway through the regular season at home.
The game started off on a rough note. Keeper James Hickok was knocked in the head making a save. Noah Schwaeber replaced him briefly — and the Cardinals kicked the ball out of bounds, allowing Hickok to return — but the All-State co-captain proved he was fine shortly thereafter, with a sliding save at the top of the box.
The Wreckers gave Greenwich a lot of room to play, however, and the Cards took advantage in the 22nd minute. Yousef Shahin appeared to be fouled, but the call went the other way just outside the corner of Staples’ penalty area.
Gittings laced a perfect direct kick into the upper left corner, staking the hosts to a 1-0 lead.
At halftime the Wreckers talked about the need to push up, and forward. When the whistle blew, they did just that.
They had several good chances in the first 12 minutes. Andrew Travers, Joe Greenwald, Harry Birch, Jordan McNair (playing despite an illness) and Diego Alanis worked well together. Andrew Puchala kept his defenders near midfield, and the Westporters were on the attack.
But in the 54th minute — against the run of play — the Cardinals got another. The ball popped off Greenwald’s hard tackle to Greenwich. They attacked down the right side, and a cross from the corner found Arnao’s foot.
Staples responded with a pair of close corner kicks. Hickok had another fine save. Travers earned another corner.
But with 21 minutes to play, a fine tip save by Hickok ended with the ball on Pieter Zinner’s foot. He finished well, for a 3-0 edge.
The Wreckers fought all the way to the end. But despite a 4-1 edge in corner kicks — and a nearly equal total in shots (Greenwich 16, Staples 14), this was the Cardinals’ day.
“This is a real tough one,” admitted head coach Dan Woog. “Greenwich finished their chances well. They showed why they’re one of the top seeds. They should make a great run through the tournament.”
With 10 days off until the start of the state “LL” (extra large schools) tournament — Monday, November 5, weather permitting — the Wreckers have a bit of time to rest and recover from a very grueling season, and focus on their next goal: the “3rd season.”
They promise to be ready. FINAL SCORE: Greenwich 3, Staples 0. SEASON RECORD: 10-5-2.
QUICK KICKS: In 1993, when current Staples freshman coach Chris O’Dell was a junior, the Wreckers lost in the 1st round of FCIACs — but went on to win the state tournament. Their opponent in that FCIAC game? Greenwich. The score? 3-0….
Coach Seth Sholes’ junior varsity looked sharp beating Darien 1-0, to finish the season 8-3-2. Sterling Price got the goal, off a corner kick.