The Nighthawks kept piling up the high-percentage scoring opportunities, only to have Bunnell of Stratford goalkeeper Jeremy Proto make saves or see their shots sail just wide in a boys’ soccer clash at Blue & Gold Stadium on September 30. Finally, about 14 minutes into the second half, a cross attempt by Newtown’s Grant Ricketts ricocheted off a diving Proto and into the net. That fluky goal proved to be the difference as Newtown High School’s booters ended a mini two-game losing skid in a 1-0 win.
“I was surprised with that angle it went in,” said Ricketts, who took a pass from Matt Mossbarger and sent a low ball toward the goal area from the left corner.
“That’s soccer,” Newtown Coach Brian Neumeyer added. “We had great chances on Saturday too, and they had one little bouncer that went in. We’ll take what we can get at this point.”
Neumeyer was referring to a tough-to-swallow 1-0 defeat at New Fairfield two days earlier. Newtown, just a couple of days before that, endured a 3-0 setback to Joel Barlow of Redding.
Ricketts’ fortuitous net-finder left the visiting Bulldogs (4-4-1) feeling stung, but the goal served as poetic justice for a Nighthawk squad in need of a good bounce.
The Nighthawks controlled the ball for much of the afternoon against Bunnell. Ricketts, Clay Gattey, Charlie Poarch, Brenton Scott and company applied pressure — and plenty of shots — from start to finish. Proto recorded ten saves; his counterpart Eli Klorczyk needed to make only two, thanks to strong defense in front of him. Matthew Baldino, Logan Puleri, Matt Cook. and Mossbarger all were among players who blocked shots or made key clears from the 18-yard box.
Neumeyer thought his team, which improved to 4-3-2, was somewhat outplayed by an undefeated Barlow team on September 26, then missed a chance to get into the win column against New Fairfield, which improved to 4-2-2. The coach said he is pleased with his team’s ability to create scoring chances and believes goals — and wins — will result from persistence.
“We’re just looking to get some positive stuff going with the group. We were unlucky on Saturday,” the Neumeyer said.
Newtown proved to be lucky against the Bulldogs, although it can’t be denied that the Hawks created their good fortunes with a never-give-up approach. “It’s a good rebound,” Ricketts said. It’s going to get us some confidence.”
The Nighthawks were looking to maintain their winning ways in a battle with New Milford on October 3. NHS will host Brookfield at 3:45 pm on Monday, October 7.