There was plenty for the Greenwich boys soccer team to like about its performance against host Darien on Tuesday, an effort resulting in an impressive 3-1 win.
“It was a fantastic effort,” Greenwich coach Kurt Putnam said. “We were defending aerial balls, the commitment was fantastic. We were covering well and when we got the ball, I thought our movement was really good.”
The seniors stepped up in a big way for the Cardinals, who received two goals from senior captain Jake Hugh-Jones and a tally from senior Santiago Borrego in the victory.
“Our ball movement was fantastic today,” Putnam said. “It’s probably the best we’ve played for the longest. We’ve played as well in other games, but maybe for 15 or 20 minutes here or there. That was the longest we played in the first half and we carried it over into the second half.”
All of the Cardinals’ goals came during the second half, after they entered halftime trailing 1-0. Greenwich knotted the score when Hugh-Jones angled his free kick from 30 yards out perfectly into the top left corner of the goal. His well-placed kick sailed over the shoulder of Darien junior goalie Thomas Branca, who played the majority of the second half, after senior Will LeHan started the game in goal.
“I was fortunate it ended up in the back of the net,” Hugh-Jones said. “It felt good to get one and to tie it back up and for us to go ahead, showed that everyone was on the same page. No one’s head dropped.”
Hugh-Jones, a defender, gave Greenwich the lead for good at 2-1 in the 52nd minute, scoring off a corner kick. Junior Lucas Luzuriaga sent his corner kick high into the box, Branca veered out from the net in an attempt to get to the ball and right in front of him was Hugh-Jones, who directed a header toward the goal. A Darien defender headed the away from the goal, but it was deemed a goal, as the referee ruled that he crossed the line. Junior Gordon Cartwright was also credited with an assist on the goal.
“Lucas put a great ball into the box, I felt the keeper behind me trying to reach in, I knew I was just in front of him to head it in – right place, right time,” Hugh-Jones said.
On a three-game winning streak, Greenwich raised its record to 5-1-2.
“We’re improving every day, I like where the team’s at and the sky’s the limit,” Hugh-Jones said. “This was an undefeated team. We had a couple of games where the results didn’t go the way we wanted, so it’s nice to get the result and see the team play well.”
Darien’s goal was scored by junior forward Trevor Pegg in the third minute. A Darien player received a second yellow card with 27:43 left in the second half. The second yellow card converts to a red card, so the Blue Wave played a man-down for the final 27:43.
“The important part of the game for us was the first 10 minutes of the second half,” Darien coach Jon Bradley said. “The first 10 minutes of the second half, we were a step behind. They punished us, then the red card comes and that pretty much ends it, but we still created some chances. Once you go down to 10 players, there’s so much space for them to play into.”
“The Cards extended their lead off another set piece. This time, Borrego tallied off a pass from senior forward Isaac Dumeny, who also paced the Cardinals offensively, making it 3-1 in the 64th minute.
Darien threatened to make it a one-goal came, but Cardinals senior goalie Julian Colin (seven saves) made a pair of nifty saves off a free kick with 6:20 left to play. Colin made seven saves in the winning effort, while senior Will LeHan and Branca shared the goalkeeping duties for the Blue Wave. LeHan played the first half and Branca was in goal for most of the second half until he received a yellow card while colliding with Dumeny with 4:27 remaining.
Pegg put Darien on top 2:26 into the first half, directing his cross in the box past Colin. Darien’s play was paced by Pegg and George Child.
Greenwich, which has won four straight, hopes to continue its success streak Thursday against Ridgefield.
“We are starting to build some momentum and we are at a good point of our season,” Borrego said. “We drew a couple of games and we lost one and now we are starting to win some games again. We’re on a good streak.”
Borrego likes what he saw from the Cardinals, who are rounding into postseason form.
“I thought it was one of our best performances yet. I thought we worked really well as a team,” Borrego said. “Offensively, we had a lot of 1-2s and a lot of build up plays in the midfield and our wingers played really well and that helped us put a lot of pressure on them and score some goals.”
The Cards are in action again Thursday against visiting FCIAC foe Ridgefield.
“I think you can see what we are capable of doing when we play our game,” Putnam said. “It’s the back five and the front five and if the back five can shore it up, the front five are going to do damage.”