Talk about a dominant performance.
Controlling the action from the outset, the Greenwich High School boys soccer team left no doubt that it was going to enjoy its Senior Night game against St. Joseph.
By the time 31 minutes were played, the Cardinals scored five goals and were cruising toward an emphatic Senior Night victory.
Senior forward/quad-captain Lucas Luzuriaga scored two goals for Greenwich in its resounding 8-0 win over St. Joseph at Cardinal Stadium. The triumph upped Greenwich’s record to 8-4-2 with one game remaining on its regular season schedule.
Coached by Kurt Putnam, the Cardinals now have 26 points and are vying for the fourth seed in the rapidly approaching eight-team FCIAC Tournament. Being the No. 4 seed would give Greenwich a home game in the quarterfinal-round of the FCIAC Tournament.
Most of the 12 seniors on Greenwich’s roster started Friday night’s matchup against the Cadets and they rose to the occasion, as the Cardinals seized a quick lead.
“We always talk about how we need to get business done in the first half,” said Luzuriaga, one of the Cards’ leading scorers for the season. “We went out there tonight and did our job.”
Senior Leonardo Martins gave GHS a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute, tallying off a Luzuriaga assist. Luzuriaga put the Cardinals ahead, 2-0, two minutes later, using his right foot to finish nicely.
“The ball came in, I saw the defender already guessing I was going to my left, so I just cut to my right and shot,” Luzuriaga said of his first goal.
Senior midfielder/quad-captain Jamie Smith scored the game’s third goal in the 19th minute, with Luzuriaga assisting on his tally. Smith enjoyed the atmosphere surrounding the Senior Night event.
“It was definitely very fun,” Smith said. “There was a great turnout from the fans. This year, there are less seniors than usual, so it’s a tight-knit group for those of us who have been here since freshman year together. It was a great night, a bunch of kids turned up, which was, obviously, nice.”
Smith appreciates the chemistry the team has shown as the season has progressed. That’s one of the reasons Greenwich has raised its level of play late in the season.
“Now we are finding things that we like and sticking to it,” Smith noted. “We are growing comfortable into our roles. We don’t have as many seniors, so maybe we don’t have as much experience this year. But as the season is has gone on and we’re getting prepared for the playoffs, players who are on varsity for the first time and are juniors are getting much more comfortable.”
Luzuriaga put St. Joseph (2-12) in a 4-0 hole when he scored off a free kick in the 26th minute.
“I was waiting to see where the keeper was standing,” Luzuriaga said of his free kick goal. “I could see he was standing on the left side and it was open, so I hit it across the wall.”
Another senior, Jacob Galvez converted a shot in the 31st minute for Greenwich’s fifth goal. In the 37th minute, senior Franklin Sousa-Filho scored giving the home team a commanding 6-0 advantage. The Cardinals, who last won the FCIAC Tournament title in 2017, host Stamford on Monday in their regular season finale. Should they beat Stamford, they will improve their seeding for the conference tournament. Last season saw Greenwich advance to the championship game of the FCIAC Tournament, where they were edged by Norwalk.
“It was a nice Senior Night game,” Luzuriaga said. “We were under the lights, it’s a Friday night, playoffs are right around the corner and we’re fighting for that home seed. There were really good vibes from the team. Everybody got in and everybody did their job.”
With 9:45 remaining in the second half, senior Andre Portilla tallied, making it 7-0. Senior Charlie Fiore capped the scoring with 2:28 left to play.
Gordy Cartwright, a senior captain/midfielder, has enjoyed his role as one of the Cards’ leaders and is impressed with how the team has improved as the season has progressed.
“It’s been amazing,” Cartwright said. “It’s a smaller team, so it creates a better bond with everyone. We’ve got a lot of young kids that we love playing with and it’s going to be great moving forward.”
Greenwich has a winning pedigree, so its expectations are high heading into the postseason tournaments.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but overall, I’m happy with the team,” said defender Nick Carvalho, also a captain. “We’ve come a long way and I think we can make a long run in FCIACs.”
“I believe we can make it to the finals and hopefully, bring back the trophy,” Carvalho continued. “If we work on communication and communicate in the game and have trust in each other, we can definitely bring it home.”
Indeed, the Cardinals are well aware of what they must do in order to reach their postseason goals.
“We have to keep doing what we were doing today,” Cartwright said. “We have to get everything on our front foot and keep going forward and keep driving. We connected a lot today and everyone was making smart decisions.”
Nico Figueroa, a senior, got the win in goal for GHS. Figueroa was the team’s starting goalie the first four games of the season, then an injury sidelined him the majority of the regular season. This matchup marked his second game back as the starting goalie. Senior Jorge Cerna replaced Figueroa in goal while he was injured and performed consistently well.
“He really stepped up, I didn’t leave him in an easy position and he really stepped up,” Figueroa said of Cerna. “I was looking forward to coming back, I missed playing a lot.”
“This game was great,” Figueroa continued. “We put in 10 seniors, we only started one junior and we all played great. We controlled the ball, we didn’t let them into our half.”