WESTPORT, Conn. The Staples High School boys soccer team had a 2-0 lead in the second half on its home field with a defense that had surrendered just one goal all season. That scenario usually results in a win for the Wreckers but not Friday afternoon against Norwalk.
The Bears scored 22 seconds after Staples' second goal and tied it with 5:33 left on a penalty kick by Nic Zuniga as the teams battled to a 2-2 in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference game. Staples is now 5-0-1, while the Bears are 4-1-1.
"I told those guys welcome to the FCIAC,'' Staples coach Dan Woog said. "In the regular season, it doesn't always your game. It was a typical Norwalk-Staples game. I hope we have a repeat in Norwalk" in the FCIAC championship game.
The teams played a lackluster first half that was eight seconds from finishing scoreless before Dylan Hoy took a pass from David Hoffman, got a step on the Norwalk defender and buried the ball behind Bears goalie Svet Kozak. It was one of the few scoring opportunities of the half for either side.
The second half, by contrast, featured multiple chances for both sides. The Wreckers converted in the 50th minute when Hoy punched in a rebound after Kozak made two brilliant saves from close range.
Norwalk moved down quickly on the counter, and tied it 22 seconds later on a goal by Matt Capomolla with an assist to Kevin Joslyn. The Bears, especially, played much more aggressively in the second half and repeatedly challenged the Staples defense.
Goalie James Hickok (13 saves) kept Norwalk off the board. He made a brilliant save on Zuniga in the 65th minute to preserve the lead, one of several nice stops by the junior goalkeeper in the second half. Staples also had its opportunities against Kozak (eight saves), including a blast by Harry Birch that banged off the crossbar with 22 minutes remaining.
Zuniga took a penalty kick after Hickok was whistled for a foul as he dove after a ball in the box. Hickok deflected the shot but couldn't control it. It ricocheted off the bottom of the crossbar and into the goal. Staples turned up the offensive pressure in the final minutes but couldn't get the go-ahead goal.
"We had our chances,'' Staples co-captain Jake Malowitz said. "You always want to come away with a win, but Norwalk is a good team. It was a step forward for us. We hope we see them again in the playoffs."
Contact Tom Renner at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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