A couple of great chances turned away by the opposing team’s defense — one from right on the goal line — and a rebound goal by the Wreckers were the difference in the Newtown High School boys’ soccer team’s state tournament loss to visiting Staples of Westport on November 7.
The Wreckers, despite being doubled up in shots against — 14-7 — and having to fend off several great Newtown chances off corner kicks, came away with a 1-0 win on a chilly night in Class LL second-round action at Blue & Gold Stadium.
The Wreckers moved onto the quarterfinals and the Nighthawks saw the chances of experiencing what Coach Brian Neumeyer believed was there for the taking — a deep tourney run — ended.
The Nighthawks generated ten corner kicks and only faced two by the Wreckers. Newtown had a pair of corners in the opening few minutes of the game alone as the Hawks used great ball movement to keep the pressure on Staples throughout much of the first half.
Two of the those corners very nearly led to goals. Wesley Morlock got a head on one that appeared destined for the back of the net but, after the ball got by Staples goalkeeper Noah Schwaeber, defender Jose Alanis cleared the ball while standing on the goal line. Moments later, the Wreckers got the only goal they needed. Newtown keeper Eli Klorczyk batted the ball away from the goal area but Wrecker Jack Scott was in position to deposit the rebound into a gaping net with just 2:22 remaining in the opening half.
In the second half, Staples player Connor Weiler cleared the ball from the goal mouth after a Newtown cross and subsequent deflection nearly got through. A late-game free kick from about 50 yards out by Newtown’s Logan Puleri was headed by Grant Ricketts but went just wide. A last-second cross by teammate Nate Kalra was batted away by Schwaeber.
“Tough breaks, but I still think our group needed to give a little bit more to win the game,” Neumeyer said. “That’s unfortunate. I think we have a very good team that could have gotten deep in the state tournament.”
Neumeyer praised the efforts — on and off field — of his seniors, particularly those of captains Logan Puleri, Matt Mossbarger, and Morlock.
“Tremendous senior leadership. The three captains have been the best I’ve had in ten years,” Neumeyer said. “It’s always refreshing to have a senior class like we had this year.”
Newtown came into the campaign having lost 11 players, including six starters, to graduation. From the get-go, Neumeyer liked the collective personality of this bunch and suggested in the preseason that the attitudes would carry this somewhat inexperienced squad as far as they had the potential to go.
In the end, a couple of tough bounces were defining moments for the Hawks. Newtown came up just shy of winning a South-West Conference championship, falling in two rounds of penalty kicks following double overtime in a scoreless stalemate with Brookfield.
In addition to the captains, seniors Klorczyk, Matt Baldino, Brenton Scott, Ricketts, Kalra, Harry Solaski, Danny Gomez, and Charlie Poarch will be missed.