Published on October 10th, 2015 | by Staples Soccer0
Wrecker Retrospective: 1970 FCIAC Championship
The other day, Fred Cantor ’71 described the 1965 FCIAC championship game. In Part 2 of this series — revisiting some of the key matches in Staples’ 27 league crowns — Fred looks back at his senior year.
The 1970 Staples soccer team had special motivation heading into the FCIAC title game. That’s because the only loss suffered by the 1969 state champion Wrecker squad was in the FCIAC finals, 1-0 to Brien McMahon. In fact, Staples had failed to score in 4 consecutive league championship matches from 1966-69, losing 3 of those by 1-0.
With 7 returning starters from the 1969 state champs — and an all-senior lineup — the 1970 squad seemed ready to break that scoring drought.
Another streak was on the line too: Staples’ defense, anchored by goalie Tracy McIntosh and center fullback Neil Brickley, had not surrendered a goal all year in games against Connecticut schools. The only team to score on the Wreckers during regular season play was Nyack, NY, which won 2-1 en route to a perfect season with no losses and no ties.
Staples’ FCIAC championship opponent in 1970 was, for the first time, a team other than Brien McMahon: Norwalk High School. But that did not in any way diminish expectations of a very competitive final. Staples had narrowly defeated the Bears 1-0 in a hard-fought regular season match.
Just over 6 minutes into the FCIAC final, played on a Friday afternoon at Wilton High School, Staples struck first on a goal by the team’s leading scorer, Tim Hunter.
In the 2nd quarter the tide could have turned. According to the Westport News, “the officials lost control of the game….When the referees failed to put a stop to Norwalk’s extra-legal activities, the game could have developed into a shoving match. Fortunately, the players of Coaches Albie Loeffler and Jeff Lea managed to keep their cool.”
Staples’ poised all-senior starting lineup played its possession game. They were rewarded 4 1/2 minutes after halftime when Hunter’s precise pass set up a first-time shot from 12 yards into the upper corner. Up 2-0, Staples continued to attack.
The results were 2 more Hunter goals in the final quarter. His hat trick came on a beautiful cross by captain Steve McCoy. A 5th and final goal in the waning minutes was scored by popular sub Glenn Lawrence.
The 5-0 rout set a new standard for margin of victory in an FCIAC championship. It appears to still be the record today, as is the case with Tim Hunter’s superb individual scoring performance of 3 goals and 1 assist. (Fred Cantor is too modest to say so, but he had 2 assists on the 1st 3 goals — and scored the 2nd himself.)
Staples’ remarkable scoreless streak continued through the state tournament, earning the Wreckers a co-state championship after a 0-0 tie with Conard in the CIAC final. The 16 consecutive shutouts to close out the season set a national record at the time.
Equally impressive, a record 13 Staples players received some form of All-FCIAC recognition. A remarkable 9 of the starting seniors went on to become captains of their college teams.
The player to attain the most success, Tim Hunter, became a 2-time All-American at UConn, played for the US national team in the Pan American Games in Mexico, and enjoyed several years in the North American Soccer League. He even scored against the legendary New York Cosmos (with Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto) before injuries curtailed his career.
When asked recently whether the FCIAC title game remains special after all he accomplished at a higher level, Tim responded without hesitation: “It’s a special memory, absolutely…And it was probably our best game of the year.”
He added: “When we were on top of our game, and a lot of times we got on top of our game when it really counted, we won with style.”
Tim demanded the very best of himself and his teammates. His firm belief: “You’ll never achieve perfection, but why not chase it?”
The 1970 FCIAC final might not have been a case of perfection, but it set the standard for all Wrecker championships to come.