BRIDGEPORT -- Both teams came into Monday night's match with similarly disappointing records, and both teams felt this would be the game to turn things around.
In the end, the Bridgeport Central Hilltoppers saw a glimmer of hope, while New Canaan saw its four-game unbeaten streak snapped.
The Hilltoppers took advantage of a flawless first half to take down the Rams 3-0 at a wet and rainy Kennedy Field. With the win, Central improves to 3-6-2 on the season while the Rams fall to 2-6-2.
"Up until now, defensively we have been pretty sound, but tonight we just weren't there," New Canaan's first-year coach Rich Sutherland said. "I don't know if it was the surface or if it was the weather, but that was the poorest first half we played by a long stretch."
The Hilltoppers controlled the pace of the first half thanks in large part to midfielder Nelite Soares, who was masterful at setting up offensive strikes and was also a key piece of Central's defensive line, which thwarted any New Canaan offensive thrust before it could gain traction.
"We had three of our guys on (Soares) and he was still beating us," Sutherland said. "The boys just couldn't pack him up."
Six minutes into the match, Central's Yoel Salvador got the party started for the Hilltoppers when he gathered up the rebound from Juan Arango's attempt and then drilled a hard riser past New Canaan goal keeper Griffin Patterson.
Salvador was also instrumental in Central's next tally when he sprinted down the left side and crossed the ball to the far edge of the box where Ricardo Jean-Pierre deftly fired his shot to the low corner, giving Central a comfortable 2-0 lead with just five minutes remaining in the half.
Partly due to some changes in formation and partly due to new-found energy, New Canaan looked like a different team in the second half. Finally, the Rams were finding scoring chances and were able to put some real pressure on Central's goal keeper Gustavo Herrera, who managed two dazzling saves in the half to preserve the Hilltopper's lead.
"If we had played the way we did in the second half we might have taken something from this game," Sutherland said. "The first 40 minutes really cost us the game, but Central deserved to beat us."
Salvador sealed the deal for Central halfway through the second half by capitalizing on a Ram miscue. A botched goal kick allowed Salvador to move in quickly to put the ball away for the Hilltoppers before Patterson could recover. Jean Pierre assisted on the goal.
"It was a hard game, but we started playing as a team," said Salvador, who had two goals and an assist in the match. "We kept our heads and played as a team; when one player plays good, the whole team plays good."
Central's coach Jay Silverman was also pleased with his team's performance.
"Tonight is definitely a morale boost for us," he said. "We have been dominating clubs all season, and this is the first game that we've actually had a nice result. My hats off to New Canaan. They were a very tough club."
The Rams took five corner kicks compared to three for the Hilltoppers. New Canaan also notched five shots on a goal compared to six for Central.
BRIDGEPORT CENTRAL 3, NEW CANAAN 0
Bridgeport Central 2 1 -- 3
New Canaan 0 0 -- 0
Records: Central 3-6-2, New Canaan 2-6-2. Goals: BC-Yoel Salvador (2), Ricardo Jean-Pierre. Assists: BC-Juan Arango, Jean-Pierre, Salvador. Goalies: BC-Gustavo Herrera; NC-Griffin Patterson. Shots: BC-6; NC-5.