Boys' Soccer Team Sends Message With Resounding Win
A sign of the changing seasons, leaves slowly blew off the trees surrounding Blue & Gold Stadium and landed around the post-game huddle as Coach Brian Neumeyer applauded the Newtown High School boys' soccer team's effort, a 4-0 blanking of previously unbeaten New Milford, on September 29.
It was the type of performance - and outcome - that gives the Nighthawks (once winless in four games to start the campaign) a boost of confidence they'll still be standing once perhaps all of the leaves have fallen. Whether they make it deep into the playoffs remains to be seen but, as captain and defender Mike Meyer said after the win over the Green Wave: "If we can beat them we can beat anybody in our league."
Not only did the Nighthawks drop the Green Wave from the unbeaten ranks, but they did so convincingly.
"They're definitely one of the better teams in the conference," Neumeyer said. "We definitely took it to 'em."
Meyer, along with Tom Skrelja, Adam Farley, and Jack Oltran, scored as 19-year Coach Neumeyer earned his 200th career win in South-West Conference play. Newtown handed New Milford its first loss in eight games to begin the year, and is unbeaten in four straight games, pushing its record to 3-2-3 this campaign.
"I think the key is keeping our heads up and scoring goals early," Meyer said of keeping up its momentum.
Newtown did plenty of scoring early on against New Milford, netting its first three goals in the opening half of play.
Another factor in how well the Nighthawks do is health, Meyer noted.
Shane Gattey hobbled off the field after taking a long pass from Oltran and being fouled just outside the 18-yard box. The pain may have been lifted slightly when Oltran knocked home a free kick for the final tally of the game, late in regulation, but the Nighthawks find themselves holding their breath anytime a player is hurt, given the current state of the roster.
Captain Elliott Bennett is sidelined with a foot injury, and Neumeyer is hopeful he will be back in the lineup in a couple of weeks. Other players, including Meyer, are playing through minor dings.
"We've got a lot of guys who are nicked up, banged up, and we're still able to push through," Neumeyer told his players after the game.
"We knew that the depth of the squad was going to be the strength of the group," said Neumeyer, who is thrilled that he has the players to step up when called upon.
Even following the graduation of most of last year's starting lineup, the Nighthawks had the goal from day one to be in contention for an SWC championship this fall. That aspiration never wavered despite a slow start to the season.
"Sometimes dealing with adversity early is okay as long as we figure it out," Neumeyer said.
The Nighthawks certainly have seemed to figure out how to win. A big reason for the turnaround has been the stellar play of the back line as defenders Meyer, Hunter Procaccini, Evan Eggleston, and Skrelja. With the work of those players and goalkeeper CJ Trivers, the Hawks have allowed one goal or no goals in each game since surrendering a pair in a 2-1 season-opening loss to Notre Dame-Fairfield, heading into a Wednesday, October 5 visit to Pomperaug of Southbury, set for 7 pm.
Newtown will be home for its next two games as rivals Masuk of Monroe and Joel Barlow of Redding visit Blue & Gold Stadium on Friday, October 7, and Monday, October 10, at 7 pm and 3:45 pm, respectively.