Following three straight losses in which it was shut out by formidable foes, the Greenwich High School boys soccer team entered halftime against New Canaan on Wednesday facing a one-goal deficit, after again, not registering a goal.
Yet the goals came for the Cardinals in a big way in the second half, courtesy of Lucas Luzuriaga.
A senior tri-captain, forward, Luzuriaga scored two second-half goals to power Greenwich to a 3-1 comeback win over New Canaan at Cardinal Stadium. The victory put the breaks on a three-game losing streak for the Cardinals (4-3-1), who dropped consecutive decisions to Fairfield Warde, Trumbull and Hall.
The Rams (4-2) went into halftime with a 1-0 lead behind a goal from senior Lorenzo Marsili.
Greenwich swung the momentum in its favor in the second half by applying more pressure on New Canaan and upping its intensity.
“I think we were letting them control the tempo, they were sitting really far back and they were making us play slow,” said Luzuriaga, a senior tri-captain. “They got that goal off that one mistake we made and in the second half, (coach) Kurt (Putnam) told us to play our game. We went out there, we pressed and we played our game.”
Indeed, Putnam helped get the team re-focused at halftime, while addressing the squad.
“Halftime team talks when you’re losing can be motivating,” said Cardinals junior Charles Fiore, who recorded one goal and one assist. “I think we played well in the first half, but the urgency wasn’t really there. In the second half, we began to speed up the tempo of play and create more chances and we were really solid in the pack, we didn’t let anything through. We just worked out the flaws from the first half and had a much better second half.”
Down 1-0, Greenwich knotted the score when Luzuriaga booted a penalty kick past Rams sophomore goalie Josef Gashi in the 44th minute. Luzuriaga drew the penalty kick with a strong run to the goal.
“I just put my head down waited for the whistle and hit it in the back of the net,” Luzuriaga said of converting the penalty shot.
Controlling a cross from Fiore, Luzuriaga, who was sprinting down the left side, directed a shot from approximately 10 yards out, inside the right post, giving Greenwich the lead for good at 201 with 23 minutes remaining in the second half.
“Charlie got the ball in the middle, he gave me the ball, the defender was giving me space and I was able to shoot it,” Luzuriaga said of his go-ahead goal.
“After I played the pass, I was stumbling,” Fiore said. ” I have full faith in him (Luzuriaga) when he gets the ball that he’s going to create something. We’ve all seen what he can do, his dribbling is ridiculous.”
The Cards increased their lead just 42 seconds later with 22:18 left to play on a Fiore goal. Junior Maximo Ferrario moved the ball to Fiore, who finished in front, giving GHS a 3-1 advantage.
“I saw Max get the ball and I knew if I had taken the defender with me then there is space for him,” Fiore said. “I just kind of hoped it would go in, so when I looked up and it went in I was pretty happy.”
Said Putnam: “Charlie was very good, that was a nice goal for him. That was a good confidence-builder for him.”
Putnam was pleased with his team’s aggressiveness and execution in the second half against New Canaan.
“We’ve been struggling to finish off with all the possession we had,” Putnam said. “At halftime, I said we had 80 percent of the ball and we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security. We told Lucas to stay out wide on the left and we wanted to speed the tempo of the game up.”
“We had to attack with width, we had to attack with through balls and we had to be more dynamic,” Putnam continued.
New Canaan’s goal came in the 36th minute off a counter attack, with Marsili receiving the ball in open space and getting a shot past Cardinals goalie Finn Junius. Junius made several saves in goal to earn the win for Greenwich, which was sparked defensively by senior quad-captain Gordy Cartwright, senior quad-captain Nick Carvalho, senior quad-captain Jamie Smith and junior Tre Hayes.
“The key for us was communicating with each other, shifting and making sure to hold each other accountable and working as a unit,” Hayes said. “We played pretty well for the most part. We knew as a team we had to pull it together. Overall, we just got it done.”
Up next for Greenwich is a matchup against another FCIAC rival. The Cards will host Darien on Friday at 4:45 p.m. at Cardinal Stadium.
“I feel like the FCIAC this year is way more competitive than last year,” Luzuriaga said. “I feel like we’re coming away with a pretty good record out of this. Darien Friday is a very tough matchup, but we’re ready for it.”
“Darien is always a big one,” Fiore noted. “I think we definitely have momentum after a good second half.”
Said Hayes: “I want us to keep it going, keep the momentum going and keep our spirits high.”
Categories: Fall sports, Greenwich High
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