Youth Soccer Roundup: Opening Matches Deliver Warmth, Wins

NCFC Red Boys 2007 Victorious over Greenwich Barcelona, 3 – 0, Setting the Tone for the Spring 2018 Season
—submitted by Ed Ho

In White, New Canaan’s stalwart defense from L to R: Drew DeGaetano, William Arnold, Rogan Lowe, Rohan Shenoy, Brooks Walker, Joaquin Blanco, Dylan Ho, Javier Minuesa

As we eagerly await the arrival of Spring in this lovely corner of SW CT, we New Canaan soccer moms and dads continue to grace the sidelines of our kids’ matches with blankets, winter coats, and wooly hats with a hope that something good is coming…something to warm our bodies and our souls as Spring customarily should.
Here in NC this past sunny Sunday afternoon, the prolonged April chill made temperatures seem high at 60 degrees, while the expectations for a W seemed low given the thrashing Greenwich gave us the last time our two clubs played in 2017. And unlike the weather, Greenwich came out hot in their away Red, launching several well organized and feisty runs.
Over the course of the first 15 minutes, Dylan Ho, playing goalie for NC, turned away at least five shots highlighted by two well directed Greenwich shots to the left corner where Ho dove, and in full stretch, punched the ball away drawing cheers from both home and away supporters. But it wasn’t just the goalkeeping that kept Greenwich from taking an early and commanding lead again…Brooks Walker and Joaquin Blanco anchored the defense with solid back line play, assisted by midfielders Javier Minuesa, Rohan Shenoy and Rogan Lowe, all teaming together to thwart the visitors’ efforts to ruin this glorious New Canaan Spring Sunday.
Luck was clearly on NC’s side as well evidenced by three Greenwich shots that struck the top crossbar and right post preserving the first half shutout. Capitalizing on great play and good fortune, New Canaan mounted its own attack late in the second half. Sajan Shah, Bennett Petrusiello, William Arnold and Drew DeGaetano all led breaks from midfield deep into Greenwich’s defense and on two of the NC runs, Ryan Stannard seized the moment by being in exactly the right place at the right time, scoring two put back goals, building a 2-0 lead and growing sense of confidence for the New Canaan boys.
Coach Dan, in his post-match interview, stated that, “We played a better second half.” And here’s why. Greenwich, one of the better teams in the premier division, never mounted a serious threat while New Canaan’s passing, defense and goal clearing led by Blanco in the 2H reached a level of proficiency not seen before. To top off that solid play, Lowe bulldogged his way thru the center midfield late in the 2H and launched a rocket from 30 yards out thru the legs of the Greenwich keeper. Lowe’s goal put NCFC up 3-0, putting the W comfortably in NC’s hands.
Shane McMahon ended the match with a big smile on his face for some really good reasons. On this day, Shane and his teammates celebrated a convincing win over rival Greenwich Barcelona, his return to play from a bad ankle injury with a great performance on the field, and in his own words, “his Earth Day Birthday!” Cupcakes and chocolate frosted smiles completed the boys’ decisive victory.
What a great way to end a glorious Spring Sunday – warmed our hearts and souls, for sure.
***
NC Boys White 07 Come Back Against OGRCC Thunder Gold 6-5
—submitted by Anne Matviak

Goalkeeper Ellis Frey along with George Matviak and Tyler Bleil guard the goal during a corner. Contributed

NC Boys White 07 came back in an exciting match on Sunday at Old Greenwich to put in for their second victory of the season. For the first half, the boys did not have it all together. OGRCC Thunder scored a first goal early on and then two more as the half unfolded. As their opponent gained confidence, NC lost their spirit and at half time, the score stood at 0-3.
Their coach André Ambersley put have said something during their break because the boys were a team reborn during the second half. Gianmarco Barrato was on fire with three consecutive goals in the first five minutes to level the score. Then Simon Tchakarov brought NC into the lead with a fourth goal. But, OGRCC answered back to tie the game. Tchakarov, with an assist by Lucas Breed, put another one past OGRCC and NC was again able to breathe a sigh of relief. But only for a moment . . . NC got a foul inside the box and OGRCC capitalized on a penalty kick. At 5-5 and the clock ticking down, the boys fought for the win, which came with minutes left with another goal by Tchakarov, assisted by Breed. Congratulations to the boys, who all showed a great effort, for a great comeback!
***
Girls U-12 Black Opens Season with Shut Out Over Shelton
—submitted by Brendan McGurk

Lindsay Zaffino maneuvers past a defender on her way to an assist. Photo: Brendan McGurk

New Canaan’s U-12 Girls Black Team opened their regular season Sunday with a decisive victory over Shelton, 4-0.
The game’s early action was balanced, with both teams feeling each other out. Sloane Griffiths broke the stalemate in the 20th minute beating several defenders and ripping a shot to put New Canaan up 1-0. Just 3 minutes later Griffiths placed a corner kick to the top of the box, where Danielle O’Malley blasted a half-volley into the back of the net. New Canaan continued to press through the first half, with Lily Bradley, Sofia Brauweiler, and Mia Fannon controlling the midfield and distributing the ball. The score went to 3-0 in the 28th minute when Tia Kivikko broke through Shelton’s defense and then deftly passed to Griffiths for another score.
The second half saw New Canaan continue to dominate possession, with Logan Severance and Campbell McGurk leading a defense that allowed no shots on goal. Ella McDonnell, Kaisa Milligan, and Kira Morton strung together passes deep in Shelton territory. Lindsay Zaffino notched an assist as the game wound down, with a perfect pass to Griffiths in front of the net, sealing a 4-0 win and giving Griffiths a hat trick on the day.
***
NC Girls 09 Red Shut Out the Greenwich Flames
—submitted by Anne Matviak

Cooney fights to take the ball from a Greenwich player. Contributed

The NC Girls 09 Red had a great showing against the Greenwich Flames at the Parkway School on Sunday afternoon, especially since it was the girls’ first time on the soccer field since the fall. With zero practice and only one sub, they still managed to dominate. With great effort and spirit, they showed that the winter hiatus had not slowed them down. Maggie Newport (first half) and Niamh Cooney (second half) stood in goal and Kathleen Langford, Maggie Greiner, Mimi Matviak and Madison Schulte alternated in defense. They did not let anything in and ably recovered the ball and pushed it up. Meanwhile, the girls in offense—Maddie Kupchak, Sienna de Kanter, Cooney and Newport demonstrated their growing passing skills paired with some great moves. The only goal came during the first half with Matviak angling one in from the left side off of an assist from Schulte. Congratulations girls on your first win of the season!

***

New Canaan Football Club ’09 Girls White Shellac Shelton 7-1

—submitted by Greg Martin

Lizzie Havens penetrating the Shelton defense with Olive Miller joining the attack.

The girls didn’t keep us waiting long to celebrate success as Olive Miller opened the scoring on a terrific individual effort less than five minutes from the opening whistle. Before the 10 minute mark arrived Haley Schlafman made it 2-0 after slicing through the Shelton defense. New Canaan’s relentless offensive pressure continued from there and Lizzie Havens made it 3-0 after intercepting a pass in Shelton’s defensive end and firing the ball into the back of the net. Before the end of the half another New Canaan player added her name to the score sheet. This time it was Riley Mountford who stripped the defender of the ball, then took a beautiful touch on the ball and calmly slotted the ball home for a 4-0 lead. Emilia Veroude kept a clean sheet in goal for the first half while also adeptly distributing the ball out of the back under the new build out line rule change for this season.

Khloé Martin and Lizzie Havens team together near Shelton’s goal.

Haley started in goal for New Canaan F.C. in the second half. Catherine Havens anchored the defense throughout the game but also created a number of chances going forward including a terrific play she made just across midfield where she put her sister Lizzie through on a breakaway for her second goal of the game. The onslaught continued when Khloé Martin took the ball from the left side of the box and slotted a beautiful pass across the box to Lizzie who finished it for her hat trick.

The Shelton girls continued their hard fought fight to the end and were rewarded with a goal to spoil the clean sheet for New Canaan to make the score 6-1. It didn’t take long after that for Lizzie to add her fourth goal for the day to close out the scoring. Courtney Marchiony, Maryn Plumb, and Molly Wolter were also outstanding today on both sides of the field in this terrific team effort. Congratulations to all the girls for their explosive start to the season.

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