THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS
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West Haven's Casey Lombardi heads the ball out of trouble against Notre Dame, Saturday, October 22, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
West Haven's Kelvin Toledo (11) chases Fairfield Prep's Kieran Bracken (23) in West Haven's 5-0 loss to Fairfield Prep, October 8, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Josh Martinez sets up the West Haven offense against Xavier, October 18, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Weathering the Storm
Westies tie Xavier in game called by lightning
By MIKE MADERA
(September 30, 2011) – One would expect nothing else. After opening the season with four straight ties, West Haven finally saw that streak stopped last weekend when the Westies fell to Hamden 3-0. The Westies played another Southern Connecticut Conference foe and division rival Xavier at home Friday evening.
With a game which saw plenty of back and forth action, a tie may have been predicted, but the way the game ended surely could not have. As the skies opened up with rain, and lightning was seen in background, the game was delayed with 27 minutes,30 seconds remaining in the second half of a scoreless tie at Ken Strong Stadium.
With several more lightning strikes seen in the distance, the start of the game was pushed back a half hour for each separate strike. Finally, with no end in sight, the game was declared a draw and the two teams walked away with a 0-0 tie on a soggy evening.
“I have never seen that many ties but this one was definitely the weather,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley said after watching his team’s record move to 0-1-5 on the season. “It was the best game we have played. Hamden was our worst but everything came together. We possessed the ball and had good chances. The story of the year is the goals have not come.”
West Haven did have some scoring opportunities in the game. Just eight minutes into the contest, Pablo Perez saw his shot beat Xavier goalkeeper Zach Camner but sail over the crossbar.
Four minutes later, Kelvin Toledo sailed his shot over the crossbar from 20 yards out. Camner came up big 15 minutes into the game when he denied Marco Olmeda from 30 yards out.
“We had opportunities,” Leapley said. “This was a measuring stick for us. Hamden was our worst game. It was just kick ball for us. I think we saw how much better we can be when we let the ball do the work. Hopefully it continues.”
Olmeda had another scoring chance nine minutes later as he took a pass from Perez but shot over the crossbar. After Toledo shot wide from 30 yards out five minutes later, West Haven’s final scoring chance went by the boards when Perez was denied by Camner from 20 yards out with six minutes remaining in the first half.
“We have to get some wins,” Leapley said as his team only has eight regular season games remaining.
West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano finished the game with seven saves. Camner made four saves in the tie for Xavier.
“I thought it was one of his (Mastrisciano) better games,” Leapley said. “I thought he played pretty well.”
Hamden downs Westies
Late goals propel Green Dragons
By MIKE MADERA
(September 24, 2011) – Over the course of the first four games, the West Haven boys soccer team has been pretty consistent. That consistency earned the Westies four straight ties to start the season.
Looking to snap the streak of ties and get in the win column, the Westies did snap the streak but fell to the Green Dragons Saturday evening at Ken Strong Stadium. Scoring three times in the final 15 minutes of the game, Hamden handed West Haven its first loss of the year by a score of 3-0.
“It was just a combination of things,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley said. “Things did not go our way. We did not play our game. It was kick ball for us. I am really disappointed.”
The Westies (0-1-4) had their opportunities but could not score in the first half. Kelvin Toledo was stopped by Hamden junior goalkeeper Adam Miedzinski from 30 yards out 20 minutes into the game and Pablo Perez hit the crossbar off a free kick three minutes later.
West Haven had another solid opportunity nine minutes later. Casey Lombardi sent a cross to Perez but the shot by Perez went wide of the net.
The Westies had another solid scoring chance in the second half. They would not convert again as Marco Olmeda’s kick was stopped by Miedzinski with 19 minutes to go from 30 yards out.
“We are going to start from scratch,” Leapley said. “We are going to see who wants to play. For us, it was just kick ball out there.”
Each team had opportunities to score throughout the contest but neither could capitalize. The Green Dragons finally did so with 15 minutes left in the game.
While it appeared West Haven would go for the fifth straight game with a tie to open the season, Hamden had other thoughts. Hamden’s Alex Zapata, in particular, made sure that streak ended, scoring twice in the final 15 minutes.
Zapata gave Hamden a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining when he beat West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano with a direct kick. Just ten minutes later, as West Haven had pushed everyone up to try and gain a tie, Zapata got by the West Haven defense and scored off a breakaway for a 2-0 lead.
Hamden iced the game two minutes later. Austin Tomin added an insurance goal at the 78 minute mark to send West Haven to its first defeat of the year.
“We had some mental breakdowns,” Leapley said. “It is tough to not get points. We hoped to at least get a tie. We are two very evenly matched teams. They stuck to their game plan and we did not. We did not play our soccer.”
Matrisciano made 10 saves in the loss for West Haven. Miedzinski picked up the shutout by making eight saves for the Green Dragons.
All Tied Up
Westies play to fourth straight tie
By MIKE MADERA
(September 21, 2011) - After tying the first three opponents of the season, the West Haven boys soccer team was hoping to pick up its first victory of the year. Playing an undefeated Fairfield Prep team on the road, the Westies knew this would be no easy task.
Using a second half goal by Marco Olmeda, the Westies played to a 1-1 tie with the Jesuits. West Haven has started the season 0-0-4.
“I warned their coach we are a tie machine,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley said. “I am happy we were able to pick up a point down there. It has been a while.
“It is nice to say we are undefeated but we have not won yet either. We need to take care of business against these teams the second time around. We need to put away those missed opportunities.”
Trailing 1-0, the Westies capitalized seven minutes into the second half. Pablo Perez took a corner kick with the rebound going to Olmeda. Olmeda beat Prep goalkeeper Will Steiner to even the game at one.
“It was our best intensity all season,” Leapley said. “They (Fairfield Prep) are technically sound on defense. They are a very good team. They are tough and smart.”
The Jesuits took a 1-0 lead in the first and took that lead to the break. Ryan Orvis set up Mike Matera at the five minute mark for a 1-0 lead.
Fairfield Prep would hold the lead as the Jesuits controlled possession. The Westies did not capitalize on their opportunities as Casey Lombardi missed on the team’s best scoring chance by hitting the post.
“We gave up a quick goal,” Leapley said. “We hit a post. We played really tough. We saw what they wanted to do and we stopped them on defense. We wanted to shock them.”
Playing the contest without leading scorer Jose Marcos who was out with a leg injury, the Westies picked up their pace in the second half.
“We had a couple of good through balls which went through Casey Lombardi,” Leapley said. “Casey had a beautiful cross to Kelvin Toledo which we just missed.”
John Matrisciano made three saves in the tie for West Haven. His performance helped West Haven gain the tie with the Jesuits.
“He had a couple of really good saves,” Leapley said of Matrisciano. “He came out of the goal and punched some out. He was pretty strong.”
Will Steiner made three saves for the Jesuits.
Marco Olmeda and the Westies are off to a start which has included four ties thus far in 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Again and Again
Westies notch third straight tie to start season
By MIKE MADERA
(September 19, 2011) - After three games in the regular season, West Haven boys soccer coach Liam Leapley had hoped to be undefeated. While Leapley has not gotten his wish, his team has not lost after three games either.
Letting a 2-0 lead slip away, the Westies played to a 2-2 tie against Career/Hillhouse Monday afternoon in New Haven. The tie was West Haven’s third in as many games as the Westies saw their record move to 0-0-3.
“The more ties we have now are hurting us,” Leapley said of his team’s 14-game schedule. “They hurt with a lack of a full schedule. We have Fairfield Prep coming up and they are a very good team and we have Hamden who is always tough.
“I wanted to be 3-0 right now. I expected us to be 3-0. Eighty to eighty-five percent of the minutes we have played, we have been the better team. Unfortunately, it has not shown in the scores.”
West Haven jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in Monday afternoon’s contest. As has been the case all season, Jose Marcos was at the center of the scoring.
Jose Marcos, seen above celebrating a goal against Amity, helped give West Haven a 2-0 lead over Career/Hillhouse with a goal and an assist. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Marcos set up Casey Lombardi who beat Career goalkeeper Edwin Matute Lopez just 48 seconds into the game for a 1-0 lead.
“He (Marcos) has been playing great,” Leapley said. “He is having a great start.”
West Haven had its opportunities in the first half and capitalized again 9 minutes, 52 seconds into the game. Pablo Perez set up Marcos, giving West Haven a 2-0 lead.
“Their goalkeeper (Matute Lopez) made some good saves,” Leapley said. “We had some opportunities, especially in the second half, but we didn’t seem to want to put them away.”
While West Haven led by two goals, the Westies never put the game away. Not doing so would come back to haunt the Westies, particularly in the first half.
Noel Elmelecki took a pass from Abraham Bartoah and beat John Matrisciano to cut West Haven’s lead to 2-1. Just 6:17 later, the game took a different turn.
Daniel Perez Ceron, off a pass from William Ayala, beat Matrisciano to even the game. The goal by Perez would be the last of the game but the momentum had turned in the contest.
“We had a couple of defensive breakdowns,” Leapley said. “That was all it was.
“It was tough against a team like them. Abraham (Bartoah) is so good. He takes your whole attention and he takes away from playing the type of soccer we like to play. They dictated the tempo. We were more concerned about him. We are a possession team and we ended up playing the long ball.”
West Haven had its chances in the second half, especially towards the end of the game, but could not net the winner.
Matrisciano finished with 10 saves for the Westies.
Fit to be Tied
Missed opportunities costly in tie
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Sept. 17, 2011) – Over the course of a season, there are games teams narrowly win and others which just escape them. For the West Haven boys soccer team, Saturday evening’s contest against Lyman Hall will be remembered throughout the season as one which got away.
Failing to build on an early lead, West Haven watched as the Trojans used Dimitri Drossopoulos’ goal with 4 minutes, 41 seconds remaining to help the Trojans tie West Haven at one. Drossopoulos’ goal would be the last of the contest as the two teams finished the contest tied 1-1.
“It feels like a loss,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley said after his team saw its second tie in two contests thus far. “We had opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize.”
West Haven’s Casey Lombardi had two chances in the second half within 3:43 but could not find the back of the net. Lombardi was denied by Lyman Hall goalkeeper Robert O’Byrne from 12 yards out then shot his second opportunity over the net.
Trailing by one goal, the Trojans got the equalizer as Alex Sousa fed a perfect pass to Drossopoulos. The senior for Lyman Hall made a terrific play as his header while diving eluded West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano to even the game at one.
“He (Matrisciano) made some good saves tonight,” Leapley said of his goalkeeper who finished with five saves.
West Haven had one final chance to win the game with 3:46 remaining in the contest. Jose Marcos made a terrific attempt with a bicycle kick but his shot screamed over the net.
The game started slowly but quickly picked up in the first half. Marcos saw his header stopped by O’Byrne seven minutes in and Nick Estrada missed a wide open net from in close three minutes later.
“We missed some opportunities especially in the first half,” Leapley said.
With West Haven putting on the pressure, the Westies finally got on the scoreboard 11 minutes, 18 seconds into the game. Marcos took a pass from Pablo Perez, split through the defense, got by O’Byrne and easily tapped in the loose ball for a 1-0 lead.
“That was a great goal,” Leapley said. “He (Marcos) dominates every time out there. They foul him and double him and he still get his opportunities.”
The Westies failed to increase the lead despite having the chances to do so. Marcos had another opportunity but shot wide of an open net 13:30 into the game.
Lyman Hall finally got going on offense but could not crack Matrisciano. Matrisciano made a great diving save off a rocket by Edward Pinon with 24:51 remaining in the opening half, then denied Sousa with another diving save 2:07 later.
Matrisciano was not done. He preserved the lead by stopping Pinon off an angle shot in front with 13:03 remaining in the half.
“Our defense played well,” Leapley said. “Marco Olmeda is a phenomenal player. He played strong out there.”
Marcos had one more shot to increase West Haven’s lead before the half and could do nothing but scratch his head after ringing the post with 6:25 remaining.
High and Wide
Missed opportunities contribute to tie in opener
By MIKE MADERA
(Sept. 13, 2011) - Call it a case of missed opportunities. That is the only way to describe the opener for the West Haven boys soccer team.
Squandered chances in the first half prevented the Westies from taking the lead. Those same misses in the second half prevented the Westies from winning.
This was not lost on West Haven head coach Liam Leapley following his team’s 1-1 tie with Amity to start the season in Woodbridge.
“We left a lot of opportunities out there,” Leapley said. “That was a good team we were playing against. We left some pretty easy goals out there.
“We had chances in front of the goal. We just kicked it over or to the side. We have to capitalize when we get those chances.”
The missed opportunities would hurt West Haven early in the contest. Despite putting pressure on the Spartans, West Haven fell behind 18 minutes into the game when Amity’s Richard Mayer created an opportunity.
Mayer set up Joey Guerra and Guerra did the rest. His shot eluded West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano for a 1-0 Amity lead.
“We had some defensive breakdowns,” Leapley said. “We had some defensive miscues and miscommunication out there.”
The Westies needed just a short time to get the equalizer. Josh Martinez set up Jose Marcos for the tying goal as Marcos beat Amity goalkeeper Noah Safian.
Jose Marcos (above) scores the tying goal against Amity, September 13, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“He (Marcos) was able to put one in back of the net,” Leapley said. “If he is not All-State this year, then I don’t know. He is playing phenomenal. They fouled him every chance they had and he kept attacking.
“We felt it was just a matter of time. We were attacking good all day. The opportunities were there. We certainly outshot them by a lot.”
Marcos’ goal would be the last one for the Westies. Shots sailed wide, high or into Safian, preventing West Haven from taking the lead and possibly winning the opener.
“Casey Lombardi had some good opportunities,” Leapley said. “Jesse Suraci played well in back. Marco Olmeda and Jorge Ardon played very, very well.”
Casey Lombardi battles for a loose ball against Amity, September 13, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Matrisciano made six saves n the tie. West Haven held a shot advantage of 8-7 in the game.
Journey begins for Westies
Getting in sync key to success in 2011
By MIKE MADERA
West Haven boys soccer coach Liam Leapley likes the look of his team. Despite dealing with weather issues and extended tryouts, Leapley feels his team is ready to leave a mark on the league.
The key for this team, according to Leapley, is getting everyone on the same page. While that may take a little bit of time, Leapley has some talented players who can carry the load until the team gets in sync.
“With the late start because of the hurricane, it is just a matter of everyone getting on the same page,” Leapley said. “We have had a lot of turnover, especially on defense. We need to play under control. We have a lot of good athletes. With the turnover, there are a lot of new players.
“One of the great things about West Haven is we get kids from all different backgrounds. They all get along fantastic. I think we can make the state tournament. I think we will do well this year.”
Leading the way for Leapley’s team are senior tri-captains Casey Lombardi, Jesse Suraci and Marco Olmeda. Suraci and Olmeda will be counted on to anchor the defense while Lombardi will look to run an offense which will be counted on to produce quickly.
“We have gotten good senior leadership,” Leapley said. “Casey Lombardi and Jesse Suraci are kids that do everything right. I can not say enough good things about Marco Olmeda. He is a hard-nosed defender and his effort is unquestioned. He gives 100% all of the time. He is a very good kid.
“They work very hard. Marco Olmeda shows fantastic leadership. Casey Lombardi and Jesse Suraci communicate and lead well. I am very happy with them.”
Lombardi will pair with offensive star Jose Marcos, who is a very skilled junior player, one which Leapley expects to garner All-State consideration. Called a “fantastic player” by Leapley, Marcos figures to draw constant defensive attention.
Sophomore Pablo Perez is another force on offense as he is a good distributor of the ball and should get everyone involved. Perez will play midfield and forward.
“We have to maintain organization,” Leapley said. “This is big right now. We have kids coming up from J.V. (junior varsity). They have to understand we are playing organized soccer. We have to get everyone on the same page. We need to play under control. It has been tough because we still have kids trying out. I like our athleticism.”
Senior Jorge Ardon will also play defense and will be a key as the Westies have a new goalkeeper to replace the graduated Kevin Murty. That duty falls to senior John Matrisciano who Leapley says has “improved a lot” since last year.
Seniors Kelvin Toledo and Nick Estrada will play midfield as Leapley looks to get off to a quick start.
Jorge Ardon prepares to move the ball against Xavier, October 18, 2011.Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Westies end season on a high note with win over Amity
By MIKE MADERA
(October 26, 2011) – Despite having just one victory heading into the regular season finale, the West Haven boys’ soccer team felt the record was a bit deceiving. Looking to show others they could compete with anyone on the schedule, the Westies got that opportunity Wednesday evening against Amity.
Scoring twice in the first half and holding off a late charge by the Spartans, the Westies closed the season with a 2-1 victory on Senior Night at Ken Strong Stadium.
“This feels really good,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley said of the team’s second win of the season. “I put in all my seniors to start and they did a good job. We got a goal out of a kid, Jessie Patchell, who has not played a lot. He played great. He (Patchell) never played offense but he was always around the ball. I was very impressed.”
The Westies struck first in the contest and never looked back. With 12 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the first half, Nick Estrada poked in a bouncing ball following a corner kick for a 1-0 West Haven lead.
West Haven looked to increase the lead but Casey Lombardi’s cross to Estrada sailed wide of the net. While that opportunity missed, the Westies did capitalize with 2:25 remaining in the half.
Pablo Perez sent a perfect lead pass to Patchell who beat everyone to the ball. Patchell’s shot beat Amity goalkeeper Noah Safian for a 2-0 lead.
“It (early lead) was really important,” Leapley said. “We got off to a great start and played well. We had a lot of opportunities and we were able to put two in.”
Patchell had an opportunity to extend West Haven’s lead in the second half. His header off a lead from Faidal Somda was denied by Safian.
“It was a good way to go out,” Leapley said after his team improved to 2-7-5. “None of the bounces seemed to go our way this year. I love the kids. They are all great kids.”
Amity put a little fear into the Westies when the Spartans scored with 5:29 remaining in the game. Jesse DiPietro picked up a long pass and beat West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano, cutting the deficit in half for Amity.
The Spartans had pressure in the final minutes but Lombardi helped preserve the victory. Lombardi picked up a loose ball in the final minute and helped kill off the final seconds to preserve the win.
Matrisciano made six saves for the Westies.
Trojans blank Westies
Scoring drought continues in loss to Lyman Hall
By MIKE MADERA
(October 24, 2011) - As the season concludes for the West Haven boys’ soccer team, it can be simply summed up. West Haven’s inability to score is the main reason the team is not going to the state tournament for the first time in head coach Liam Leapley’s tenure.
That scoring drought continued against Lyman Hall. The Trojans, who qualified for the state tournament with the victory, used an early goal and defeated West Haven 1-0 in Wallingford Monday evening.
“Jose Marcos could not go again,” Leapley said of Marcos’ ankle injury. “He is a goal scorer. Him not playing throws off our offense. We had opportunities again but could not score.”
After scoring five times in the first four games of the season, West Haven has scored just three goals in the last nine contests. That inability to score appeared once again on Monday.
The Westies had two breakaways but came away empty. Jesse Suraci was denied by Lyman Hall’s Robert O’Byrne and West Haven was not there for he rebound.
Casey Lombardi then broke in on O’Byrne. The problem for Lombardi was the Trojans caught up to him and denied the breakaway.
“We had a few breakaways but again could not capitalize,” Leapley said. “Jesse made a beautiful run after a perfect pass to him but the goalkeeper made the save.”
Lyman Hall scored the only goal it would need in the first half when freshman Jeffrey Baksa set up senior Brent Cornwall. At the 8:26 mark of the first half, Cornwall beat West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano for a 1-0 Lyman Hall lead.
“I thought we did well,” Leapley said. “We executed well. We had a defensive breakdown and that allowed them to get their goal.”
Once the Trojans scored, West Haven was in comeback mode. With the inability to score for most of the season, West Haven had plenty of time to come back.
That never materialized as the Westies managed just six shots. O’Byrne made five saves to pick up the win and preserve the shutout.
“I am disappointed,” Leapley said of not playing in the postseason. “Guys like Marco Olmeda and Jesse Suraci bleed for this team. Marco got a gash over his ear and would not come out of the game. He would not come off the field. He said we have two games left and he was going to see it through.
“You have to respect a kid like that. The guys deserve better. There are a bunch of kids like that. They are all great kids. I wanted a better result for them.”
Cornwall’s goal gave the Trojans the lead they needed to qualify for the postseason. Once the Trojans scored, they played solid defensively to qualify for the state tournament.
Matrisciano finished with eight saves as Lyman Hall took 12 shots.
Despite the efforts of West Haven's Troy Consalvo, West Haven fell to Notre Dame 2-1 Saturday, October 22, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Westies eliminated from state tournament contention with loss to Green Knights
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (October 22, 2011) – Needing a win or tie to keep the postseason hopes alive, the West Haven boys’ soccer team needed no motivation as the Westies hosted cross-town rival Notre Dame Saturday night. Knowing anything but a loss would keep their hopes of playing in the postseason alive, West Haven could not get the job done, losing to the Green Knights 2-1 at Ken Strong Stadium.
“I am disappointed in not going to the state tournament,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley said. “It is the first time since I have been coaching. The ties hurt us.
“We have no one to blame but ourselves. We should have taken care of business at the beginning of the season. We knew our backs were against the wall.”
Trailing 2-0, West Haven fought to the end. George Oppong scored with 1 minute, 12 seconds remaining but the Westies could not get the equalizer.
“We fought to the end,” Leapley said.
Notre Dame got on the board first and never looked back in the first half. After squandering numerous scoring opportunities by shooting wide or being denied by West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano, Notre Dame finally capitalized with 4 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the first half.
Marco Olmeda (l.) battles for a loose ball in West Haven's 2-1 loss to Notre Dame, Saturday, October 22, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Junior Bryan Amaris’ shot was stopped in front but the bouncing ball found its way to Derek Spambanato. The senior forward drilled a shot high over the arms of Matrisciano into the top right corner for a 1-0 Notre Dame lead.
“We were able to win the balls in the first half,” Notre Dame coach Rudy Raffone said. “I was not happy with the second half.”
The Green Knights pressured Matrisciano early and often to start the game. Spambanato and Matrisciano collided going for a loose ball 10 minutes in and Matrisciano beat Ejike Okoro to a loose ball with a slide to knock the ball away ten minutes later.
Okoro then had a golden opportunity but could not tap a loose ball in an open net with 13:48 remaining in the first half. Okoro also shot high and wide with 10:50 remaining in the half.
West Haven’s best opportunity of the first half came with 1:49 remaining. Jorge Ardon’s direct kick from 35 yards out was stopped by a diving goalkeeper Joe Bongiorni.
West Haven's Jorge Ardon attempts to get the ball between a pair of Notre Dame players in West Haven's 2-1 loss, Saturday, October 22, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Spambanato’s goal was the lone goal of the half and proved to be a thorn in West Haven’s side. The Westies, who have struggled to score all year, were in comeback mode and played desperate soccer in the second half.
That desperation produced a pair of scoring opportunities early. Faidal Somda sent a ball to Ardon whose header was denied by Bongiorni 1:50 into the second half. Bongiorni came up big 7:50 in as he beat Somda with a slide to knock away a loose ball in front.
The game took a turn for the worse for the Westies with 12:45 remaining. After Casey Lombardi sent a cross through the box, the ball found its way to Ardon, who missed the corner of the open net by two feet from 20 yards out.
Unable to capitalize, West Haven saw its season end less than two minutes left. William Palmieri’s shot was stopped by Matrisciano but Matrisciano could not retain control. Okoro picked up the loose ball and drilled a shot to the top of the goal with 10:47 remaining for a 2-0 Notre Dame lead.
“John (Matrisciano) made the save but he was unable to maintain control,” Leapley said. “They were able to capitalize.”
Matrisciano made 10 saves in the loss.
Backs to the Wall
Loss to Xavier pushes Westies to the limit
By MIKE MADERA
(October 18, 2011) – The postseason has started now for the West Haven boys’ soccer team. After losing to Xavier 4-1 in Middletown Tuesday afternoon, the Westies have put themselves in a position where they can not afford another loss if they hope to play in the state tournament.
Tuesday’s loss dropped West Haven to 1-5-5 on the season. With three games remaining, West Haven, at minimum, needs two wins and a tie to play in the state tournament.
“The pressure is definitely on,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley said. “I think we can play with all the teams we have left. They are all good teams. We have our backs to the wall. We have to come out and fight. I am hoping we will do that.”
With top play maker Jose Marcos playing less than ten minutes before departing with an ankle injury, West Haven had limited opportunities against Falcons’ goalkeeper Zach Camner. Camner was forced to make just five saves in the shutout.
West Haven's Jesse Suraci tries to generate some offense against Xavier, October 18, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven’s best chance to score came with Casey Lombardi. In front of the goal, Lombardi was denied by Camner.
“With our best offensive threat (Marcos) out, we had few opportunities,” Leapley said. “We are a pass oriented team and we have to control the ball. Their field is grass and it has seen better days. It did not work out well for us. We had trouble controlling the ball. It was not a very good job by us.”
While the Westies struggled to get any offense going, Xavier capitalized right away, scoring three times in the first half. Goals by Andrew Coburn, Andrew Gonzalez and Spencer Fletcher in the first half put the Falcons in front 3-0.
West Haven never recovered and fought an uphill battle all day. Griffin Wray ended any thoughts of a West Haven comeback with a goal in the second half, putting West Haven in a 4-0 hole.
West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano makes a save against Xavier's Brandon Butler (23), October 18, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“A couple of times we had legitimate defensive breakdowns where we should have cleared the ball,” Leapley said. “Our clearing attempts were shot low and intercepted. We had some defensive breakdowns.”
Leapley was happy with the play of Pablo Perez. Perez, who creates scoring opportunities every game, played an all around solid game.
“Pablo had a very good game,” Leapley said. “He was very consistent out there.”
West Haven starts its “postseason” Saturday evening when the Westies host cross-town rival Notre Dame at 7 p.m.
In the Win Column
Westies notch first win of year with victory over Hamden
By MIKE MADERA
(October 12, 2011) - As time ticks away on the fall season, the West Haven boys’ soccer team is well aware wins are imperative if the team hopes to play in the state tournament. With five ties in the first nine games, it would appear the Westies were in good shape.
Those ties were the only points West Haven had until Wednesday evening. Using a pair of goals by their senior leaders, the Westies defeated Hamden 2-1 at Hamden High School.
“It is always interesting when we play Hamden,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley said. “We are two very similar style teams.
“They (Hamden) played very aggressive. The game was different this time. The ball landed where we needed it to land. We were able to put it away.”
The two goals ended a stretch of five games where the Westies had failed to score, including a 3-0 loss to Hamden. Prior to Wednesday evening, the last time West Haven found the back of the goal was in a 1-1 tie with Fairfield Prep.
“The ball came tour feet,” Leapley said. “It has not been recently. Both of our goals came off deflections.”
West Haven turned to its leaders to pick up the victory as Jose Marcos and Casey Lombardi found the back of the net. Marcos’ shot was a rocket to the upper corner 20 minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead.
“He just ripped it,” Leapley said of Marcos.
The Westies added an insurance goal, which turned out to be the winner, when Lombardi placed a shot 10 minutes into the second half for a 2-0 lead.
“It was a big goal,” Leapley said of Lombardi’s goal.
Lombardi’s goal would prove to be huge as Hamden’s Alex Zapata beat West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano with 15 minutes to go. The goal, off a direct kick, set up a frantic finish in which the Westies held on for their initial victory of the season.
“It was a long time coming,” Leapley said of the win. “The kids are ecstatic. This is such a good team. All the coaches we play say they are surprised at our record.”
The Westies did have other opportunities to score but could not convert. Jorge Ardon, Marcos and Josue Martinez all could not capitalize.
Matrisciano made seven saves in the victory. The West Haven goalkeeper was tested but came up big.
“He came up with some good saves,” Leapley said. “He came out well and got the balls at the top of the box.”
Leapley and the team know they need more than just one win to qualify for the state tournament.
“We know we have to keep winning,” Leapley said as his team has four games remaining. “Our backs are against the wall. We changed our formation and it worked well. We moved Jorge Ardon up top because we needed more offense. We adjusted and it worked.”
Looking for Answers
Westies fail to score for fifth straight game
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (October 8, 2011) – Over the course of the last four games, the West Haven boys’ soccer team has failed to score. That stretch has put the postseason hopes for the Westies in jeopardy.
Looking to get back on track, the Westies knew if they were going to pick up their first win of the season, it would come have to come at the hands of a tough Fairfield Prep team. After playing well in the first half, West Haven allowed four goals in the second half and fell to the Jesuits 5-0 at Ken Strong Stadium Saturday evening.
“I went with a more defensive front,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley said after his team fell to 0-4-5 on the season. Offensively, we do not know what it is. We are looking for the perfect shot. You are not always going to get that.”
With a handful of games remaining, the Westies need to pick up their play and get in the win column or face the possibility of missing the postseason.
“It is crunch time now,” Leapley said. “I think we understand that.”
The Jesuits controlled play from start to finish, possessing the ball for the majority of the game. Fairfield Prep set the tone early as Jack Grella’s shot sailed over the goal 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the game and Austin Sims had his shot denied by West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano from 25 yards out.
The Jesuits’ pressure paid off 7:04 into the game. Grella set up Jack Gavey who one-timed a shot past Matrisciano for a 1-0 Prep lead.
West Haven had two quality scoring chances in the opening half. Jose Marcos was denied by Fairfield Prep goalkeeper William Steiner from point blank range with 24:40 remaining in the half and Pablo Perez saw his shot off a free kick sail wide of the post from 14 yards out.
West Haven's Jose Marcos has his eye on the ball against Fairfield Prep, Saturday, October 8, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“We want to walk in on goal,” Leapley said. “We want that perfect shot. We are just not putting it away. We had a few chances where we did not capitalize.”
The Jesuits wasted no time putting the game away, scoring four times in the second half. Sims hit the post on Prep’s first opportunity and the ball bounced right to Ryan Orvis who easily beat Matrisciano for a 2-0 lead just 2:32 into the second half.
West Haven’s Troy Consalvo was stopped by Steiner from 22 yards out with 27 minutes remaining and Casey Lombardi missed an opportunity three minutes later. Lombardi’s cross through the box eluded the Westies.
West Haven's Casey Lombardi heads the ball through the Fairfield Prep defense, Saturday, October 8, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“We are executing everything until the last eighteen yards,” Leapley said.
The Jesuits put the game away 1:10 later when Nicholas O’Kane beat Matrisciano. Just 1:21 later, it was 4-0 as Stephen Tortora beat Matrisciano from point blank range.
Grella capped the scoring for the Jesuits when he drilled a shot to the right corner past a diving Matrisciano with 16:38 remaining.
West Haven’s final two opportunities came from 35 yards out. Steiner denied Marcos on a free kick with 16:45 remaining and Kelvin Toledo was denied with 4:30 remaining.
Matrisciano made 10 saves in the loss for West Haven.
Westies looking for first win of season
By MIKE MADERA
(October 6, 2011) – If anyone had asked the members of the West Haven boys’ soccer team if they would have signed up for just three losses after the first eight games of the season, most of the players probably would have said yes, knowing the tough competition they were scheduled to play.
While the Westies have just three losses, the unfortunate part is the Westies have yet to pick up a win. West Haven could not pick up that first victory Thursday evening as Career/Hillhouse defeated the Westies 3-0 at Ken Strong Stadium.
“I thought we played well,” West Haven assistant coach Ray Guarino said as he coached in place of Liam Leapley who missed the contest. “We tried to contain Abraham (Bartoah). The kid is legit. He is really good. He is a man out there. He is a man among boys. He can score whenever he wants to.”
Bartoah was the key focus and did not disappoint for Career/Hillhouse. Bartoah scored once in each half to give Career/Hillhouse a 2-0 lead. The two goals proved too much for the Westies to overcome as West Haven fell to 0-3-5.
Bartoah gave Career/Hillhouse a 1-0 lead with 28 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in the first half as he took a long pass and beat West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano to the right side of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
The Westies had their opportunities but could not score. As has been the case lately, West Haven has not capitalized.
“I thought we possessed the ball well,” Guarino said. “We are not scoring right now. We missed probably four legitimate scoring opportunities. We have to keep working on it.”
The Westies squandered chances in the first half as Jose Marcos shot wide of the net 11 minutes into the game and Casey Lombardi’s cross to Faidal Somda went wide to the right of the goal 13 minutes later.
Jorge Ardon missed on a free kick with 11:55 remaining in the half and Somda split the defense with 3:55 to go. Somda’s shot was denied on a one-on-one by goalkeeper Edwin Matute Lopez.
Bartoah gave Career/Hillhouse a 2-0 lead off a break 12:47 into the second half as he scored into the right corner and Mourad Elberkan iced the game 4:50 later when his shot eluded Matrisciano.
“I thought we played better in the second half,” Guarino said. “We moved the ball well and played together.
West Haven had two quality scoring chances in the second half. Marcos could not convert a free kick 5:10 into the second half and Somda’s cross to Nick Estrada in front never materialized as Estrada’s header went wide of the goal with 29:49 remaining.
Matrisciano made eight saves in the loss for West Haven. Matute Lopez made nine saves in the shutout.
Notre Dame's Ejike Okoro gets through the West Haven defense, including Troy Consalvo (22) at right. Okoro scored the lone goal of the game in Notre Dame's 1-0 victory, October 4, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Westies shut out by Notre Dame
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (October 4, 2011) – Despite completely different records, both the West Haven and Notre Dame soccer teams knew exactly what to expect Tuesday afternoon at Veteran’s Stadium. An intense battle was expected and both teams delivered.
Ejike Okoro’s goal with 25 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the second half turned out to be the lone goal of the contest as Notre Dame defeated the Westies 1-0. With the victory, Notre Dame improves to 5-2-1 while West Haven falls to 0-2-5.
Ejike Okoro scores the only goal of the game for Notre Dame
“We got the lead and went into a defensive set,” Notre Dame coach Rudy Raffone said. “We went to the single striker. That works for us.
“The key to the game was the way we played number ten (Jose Marcos). We marked him tight and we did a good job on him.”
Okoro’s goal came off a broken play on a corner kick. A loose ball was nudged by Sean Quinn to Okoro, who quickly headed a shot past West Haven goalkeeper John Matrisciano.
“He (Okoro) just gave it a quick flick," Raffone said of the goal. “That was the third time this year we have scored like that.”
Okoro’s goal was a crusher for a West Haven team which dominated the first half and had the better of the scoring opportunities. Struggling to put the ball in back of the net, West Haven saw those opportunities go by.
“It’s disappointing,” West Haven coach Liam Leapley. “We possessed the ball better than we have and had it the majority of the time. It’s just the little things here and there.
“I’m concerned. We had two point blank opportunities and we did not capitalize.”
West Haven had its share of opportunities right from the start in the first half. Casey Lombardi had a through ball come his way but he could not get to it.
Casey Lombardi shoots wide of the goal in second half action.
Pablo Perez had another solid opportunity but his shot was stopped by Notre Dame goalkeeper Joe Bongiorni ten minutes into the game from 35 yards out.
Bongiorni was especially good seven minutes later when he robbed Jose Marcos in front from point blank range with a diving save. Jorge Ardon also had a pair of opportunities but sailed each shot wide from 30 yards out with 26 minutes remaining in the half and again in the final ten seconds of the half.
The Notre Dame defense, led by Earl McCoy Jr. (2), did a nice job defending Jose Marcos (10) in West Haven's 1-0 loss to the Green Knights, Tuesday, October 1, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
“We are just having trouble putting the ball in the back of the net right now,” Leapley said. “We dominated that first half and could not score.”
The second half started much the same way for West Haven as Perez slid a shot across the goal line from an angle five minutes in.
The Green Knight finally got their best scoring opportunity of the game to that point eight minutes in when Okoro was denied by Matrisciano from 30 yards out.
Marcos then had his second golden opportunity of the game. From a sharp angle five yards out, Marcos could not convert, shooting wide of the goal with 28:05 remaining.
West Haven's Jose Marcos tries to gain control of a loose ball against Notre Dame and Earl McCoy Jr. (2), October 4, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Okoro’s goal hurt the Westies in more ways than just the scoreboard. The goal allowed Notre Dame to focus on defense and limit the quality chances West Haven had.
Bongiorni was tested just once more as he stopped Marco Olmeda with 15 minutes to go.
“I think we still have a long way to go,” Raffone said. “We are trying to improve every game. We want to survive and make the tournament and keep getting better in doing that.
“I give a lot of credit to West Haven. They are coached well and I thought both teams kept their composure out there today which made for a good game.”
Bongiorni made seven saves in the shutout for Notre Dame. Matrisciano finished with three saves in the loss.
West Haven's Faidal Somda looks to make a play in West Haven's 5-0 loss to Fairfield Prep, October 8, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Nick Estrada (8) against Xavier, October 18, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Troy Consalvo (22) prepares for a collision against Xavier, October 18, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Troy Consalvo heads a ball away from danger against Xavier, October 18, 2011 as Nick Estrada (8) looks on. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Santi Perez (5) defends against Xavier, October 18, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Pablo Perez possesses the ball against Xavier, October 18, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
BOYS SOCCER 2011