By Steve Rogers
WESTPORT —Both high school boys’ soccer teams learned a bit about themselves when Bishop Stang defeated Westport 3-1 in the first game of the season for both teams Monday in town.
The game between the Division 2 Spartans and Division 3 Westport was scoreless at halftime before Bishop Stang scored two goals early in the second half to take control. Jacob Carlson scored the first goal off an indirect kick and Liam Saunders scored the second just 93 seconds later.
“We definitely stepped it up,” Carlson said. “We got a good talking to at halftime. We definitely got our heads in the game and played to win.”
The visiting Spartans had just four shots the first 40 minutes, one more than Westport managed. But Bishop Stang outshot the Wildcats 18-3 the final 40 minutes and had seven corner kicks compared to one for Westport.“I think fitness had a little bit to do with it,” Westport coach Mark Nardelli said. “It’s early in the season. It’s a little bit of a new system that we’re playing and a lot of guys are in new positions.
“As they got tired there were missed marks, missed headers, missed clearances. When you do stuff like that against a good team, a dangerous team, they’re going to put some goals away on you.”
Carlson was the first to score with his goal coming from about 25-yards out. David Fernandes pushed the ball toward Carlson and he sent it past Westport’s five-man wall and into the far side netting.
“He laid it off for me and I gave it a kick,” Carlson said. “It’s a set play. We practice that. I was aiming for that corner and it went top right.”
Saunders quickly got the next goal but Russ Bolarinho did the work. He carried the ball deep down the right wing, drew out Westport keeper Ryan Martel and crossed a pass. Saunders simply ran onto the ball and poked it into the open net.
Westport’s Richie Hartnett answered even quicker. Hartnett got loose in front of the Spartans goal and knocked the ball home just seven seconds after Saunders’ scored. Twelve minutes later Haden Cordeiro added the insurance goal for Stang. James Powers arced a long throw-in from the left corner deep in Westport territory and the ball bounced untouched through the box and to Cordeiro alone at the right post. He didn’t miss from close range.
“A lot of the time, especially around midfield and our own defensive third, we were outworked on head balls,” Nardelli said. “When you lose 75 percent of the head balls, it’s going to come back and bite you eventually. We definitely need to be working on our headers and our clearance in practice.”
Lyle Rosa, who played offense last season for Westport and scored more than a few goals, played most of the game at sweeper Monday. Hartnett was in the offensive position until late in the match when the two switched spots.
“We’ve got to move our two best players around in impact positions,” said Nardelli. “I moved Lyle up the last 10 minutes of the game because Richie played 70 minutes up and down the field as a center midfielder. I was hoping, and I think he did a little bit, Lyle could provide a spark when I put him in that position. It’s kind of like you’re unchaining somebody that’s been chained up the whole game.”
Nardelli wasn’t pleased his team lost the game but he came away knowing the Wildcats just need to tweak a few things in order to improve. If not, it could be a long season for Westport.
“We have a lot of respect for Stang. We knew they were going to be skilled,” Nardelli said. “We knew what we were getting ourselves into it was just how are my guys going to step up? Largely I was happy with a lot of guys. I’m happy with the way we stepped up as a team.
“Of the three goals that were scored against us today, the positive part of that is we can correct what they did. Hopefully that doesn’t happen to us in the future. But if we have this effort and we’re still making these mistakes in two weeks, we’ve got big problems.”