Norwalk's 3 quick goals to start 2nd half bury Rams
NORWALK -- A three-goal flurry in a span of less than five minutes led to New Canaan dropping its second straight game 3-0.
The Rams boys soccer team (6-3-3) fell Tuesday night against Norwalk (11-2) after playing a strong, competent first half against one of the fastest and most aggressive teams the FCIAC has to offer. After losing last Thursday to Greenwich 3-0, New Canaan head coach Victor Sanchez said his team's not been able to sustain 80 minutes of strong defense; it's the brief lapses that have hurt the Rams in big spots this season.
"Similar reasons (for the losses)," Sanchez said. "We knew we wanted to hold them (Norwalk) off the first 20 minutes, and that's what we did very well in the first half. In the second half, we need to have the pressure, continued intensity, and we just didn't have that. We were lacking everything in that sense in regard to defense. They capitalized."
The capitalization came like a cannon ball fired from the barrel in the opening minutes of the second half. All three goals were scored by Bears senior captains. The first came from the leg of Andres Torres, who took a pass from Daniel Quintero and boomed home a shot past New Canaan goalie Scott Levene with 38:57 remaining in the second half. Levene had no chance on the dive, as Torres' shot was far wide of his outstretched arms.
Jake Zuniga scored at the 34:45 mark to give Norwalk a 2-0 lead after New Canaan tried to clear the ball out of the penalty zone, only to have it roll up to Zuniga at the most unfortunate time.
Less than a minute later, Torres got his second goal when Santiago Muriel passed it up to Torres, who took the wide angle from the right side and went high on Levene. Despite the three goals allowed, Levene had a number of acrobatic saves that likely would've been twine-finders against most other goalies in the conference.
"Scott did an amazing job," Sanchez said. "He did what he could and in a lot of instances he kept us in the game early on in the first half."
Was Norwalk the fastest team New Canaan's faced this season?
"Definitely," Sanchez said. "They're extremely technical. They're smart. Their soccer IQ is off the charts."
The Rams kept pace with Norwalk through the first 40 minutes, though. The game wasn't played too much along the sidelines -- each team took its offense right up the middle of the field and never let the defenses find time to tug on their shorts. The primary issue for New Canaan: a lack of clear looks at the goal.
Norwalk simply didn't let the Rams find space within 10 yards of Kozak to wind up and take a shot. The team was always rotating and forcing the Rams to try and get a quick chip on goal or continue to move the ball about the field.
At this point in the season, Sanchez said his team hasn't shown itself to be dominant in any one area. In order to upset teams en route to an FCIAC title -- something the group believes is an achievable goal this year -- they're going to have to get really good in some areas, really fast. Defensive stamina seems to be Sanchez's choice of desired expertise.
"There hasn't been something that's consistently been done, but I'm happy with how the defense played in the first half," Sanchez said. "I'm happy they were able to buy into the system defensively and that they kept them scoreless in the first half."
New Canaan plays Bridgeport Central on the road Thursday, then gets a home date against up-and-down Darien Monday afternoon at 4 p.m.