Published on November 12th, 2016 | by Staples Soccer0
Match Report: Staples vs. Farmington, State Tournament Quarterfinals
Staples and Farmington have met only 3 times in the state tournament. But each match was a classic.
In 2006 — en route to the finals — the Wreckers eliminated the Indians, 9 penalty kicks to 7, after a scoreless duel. In 2010 the upstaters exacted revenge in the state championship, winning 2-1 with a late seeing-eye free kick. The following year, Farmington won 1-0 in the round of 16, in another fierce, heated battle.
The site was once again Al Bell Field at Tunxis Mead. The Indians were higher rated — #4, with a 13-2-1 regular season mark — and were coming off a 4-0 blasting of Darien. Staples, ranked 21st in the LL tourney, had eliminated a pair of higher ranked teams — both by shutouts — and was filled with confidence.
The Wreckers’ game plan was to apply high pressure. Farmington showed Staples’ defense a bit of respect by not pressuring equally. The lines were drawn for another down-to-the-wire affair.
The hosts — big, strong and quick — rely on an air game to bang it forward and in. The Wreckers, meanwhile, are a possession team. The differing styles were on display from the opening whistle.
Thomas Nealon — the former academy player who has sparked the Wreckers all year, but was recently moved forward in an attempt to generate more goals — gave a tremendous baseline service in the 10th minute. Spencer Daniels’ shot was just wide.
In the 18th minute Matt Engler — part of a masterful central midfield duo, with Jannis Dietze — stole a ball, s hot and earned a corner kick. It was 2 minutes more before the Indians registered their first telling shot. But keeper Ziggy Hallgarten was there, cutting down the angle brilliantly.
Daniel Reid sped up and down the right flank. His 21st-minute pass to Dietze led to a free kick. Nealon floated it in.
In front of Hallgarten, the back four of Chris Martenson, Josh Berman, Sam Kantor and Teddy Lawrence kept their shape. By doing so, they kept Farmington from penetrating on the ground.
In the 30th minute, a flurry of activity in the Indians’ penalty area almost resulted in a score. But Farmington quickly countered, and while Hallgarten came out strongly to save a breakaway, Martenson was called for a yellow card foul. Hallgarten saved the dangerous free kick, from dead-on just outside the box.
Another fine Wrecker opportunity came with 2:30 left in the half. Hallgarten’s mammoth punt was touched on by Engler. Daniels was in the box again, but Farmington snuffed out that chance.
The Indians opened the 2nd half with a dangerous shot. Eight minutes later, it was Staples knocking on the door.
Action ebbed and flowed. Three minutes later Hallgarten made the save of the year — though there were many contenders in previous games — on a Farmington rocket headed to the far left corner. Staples held tight on the corner kick that followed.
Slowly, the Wreckers gained control. They were controlling play — as their foes tired — when, with 13 minutes to go, the center official pulled a hamstring. The 5-minute delay while he was wrapped by the trainer gave Farmington a much-needed breather.
Two minutes after that — with 11 minutes to go — Martenson received a 2nd yellow, on a controversial call just outside the box. That sent him off for good, leaving the Wreckers 1 man down.
Hallgarten saved the ensuing free kick. But a minute later, the Indians took advantage of their man-up situation, scoring on a driven corner kick.
There were 9 minutes to play. Staples made the most of every second. But the Indians managed the game well, right to the end.
The Wreckers were devastated. The seniors fell to the ground, sobbing. They’d given the #4 seed everything they had. They’d executed their game plan to perfection. They’d controlled the ground.
But they’d lost.
Head coach Dan Woog could only shake his head — in wonder at the outcome, but with pride in his squad.
“I’ve said it before: Soccer is a cruel game,” he noted. “I feel awful for our guys. They did everything right. They played great soccer. They just did not get the result.”
“It hurts,” he continued. “It will hurt for a long time. But they should feel very, very proud. They did everything our coaches — Kurt Dasbach, Tom Henske, Chris O’Dell — asked. They raised the standard. They battled like warriors. They grew as players, and as men.”
All year long, O’Dell challenged them to find their identity. “I think they did,” Woog said. “No matter what the scoreboard says, they’re winners.” FINAL SCORE: Farmington 1, Staples 0. FINAL SEASON RECORD: 9-5-6.
QUICK KICKS: The Wreckers graduate 16 seniors: Josh Berman, Kenny Brill, Matteo Broccolo, Luca Cotio, Spencer Daniels, Shane Dasbach, Ziggy Hallgarten, Thomas Heisler, Danny Jersey, Sam Kantor, Teddy lawrence, Thomas Nealon, Griffin O’Neill, Daniel Reid, Stephen Rowland and Rory Steele….
In other LL quarterfinal action, #7 Shelton stunned #2 Greenwich 3-2, with 2 goals in the final 11 minutes; #11 Danbury stunned #3 Trumbull 4-2, and #16 Fairfield Prep edged #25 Simsbury 2-1.