Boys soccer: Warriors sluggish in loss to Bears

When you face off against a talented Norwalk team that has speed and depth, not only must you bring your ‘A’ game, you better bring the right mental attitude, too.

It was clear that the Warriors did not bring the latter, as the Norwalk Bears dominated play in a 3-0 shutout win over the Wilton High boys soccer team on Monday at Kristine Lilly Field.

“Our coaches were right on with their assessment of the game — that we didn’t have the right attitude to take on Norwalk today,” said senior co-captain John Brown. “We clearly didn’t play our best today. During our pre-game warm-ups the team was not as focused as they should prior to a key game and it showed on the field. We didn’t play composed and made several mental slip-ups.”

It was evident from the start that the Bears were going to be in the attack mode. Their back line played up high to keep the ball in the Warrior defensive zone and they had the speed in case they needed to retreat. The Bears used pinpoint on the ground passes to advance the ball and sustained numerous offensive rushes.

The Warriors did a good job in weathering the early storm and kept Norwalk off the board until late in the first half, but they achieved this by just clearing the ball back into the midfield area, as opposed to creating their own rushes.

The game was scoreless until the 38th minute when Matthew Hernandez had his long pass on the ground catch Michael Hidalgo in stride as he split the Warrior defense. Wilton goalie Tyler Smith didn’t have a chance for the save and the Bears were up 1-0

Norwalk increased their lead to 2-0 with 55.2 second left in the first half. Sebastian Echeverri took a pass on the left wing and turned the corner on the Wilton defense. Smith came off the back line and got a piece of the ball, but the ball rolled into the net.

“This is the second game this season that we let our opponent score with time winding down in the first half. It kind of takes the fight out of you,” said Brown. “We have to come out and give 100% for the entire 80 minutes of the game.”

The Bears came out in the second half and scored again in the 48th minute to make it 3-0. Joshua Velez set up Echeverri beautifully for his second goal of the game.

Wilton’s play continued to be sluggish, as the Warriors were slow to the 50/50 balls and gave the Bears room to run. Wilton’s offense could only manage two shot shots on goal, both coming early in the second half. The Warriors rushed their passes and made many passes without a purpose.

Norwalk, on the other hand, was able to make quality runs up the field as the players advancing the ball had time to survey the field and look for their best option.

With the Bears holding a 3-0 lead midway through the second half, Norwalk coach Chris Laughton starting emptying his bench. But the coach still told his players “we still want to keep them from scoring.”

Cole Judkins started in goal for Norwalk and played the first half. Gianluca Trofa played the second half and recorded two saves.

Chris Sweeney took over in goal for Smith for the Warriors midway through the second half. The two Wilton goalies were credited with 13 saves.

The Warriors are now 0-1-1 on the season and will face New Canaan tonight at 7 at home.