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Newtown High’s boys’ soccer team came from behind to nip visiting Notre Dame-Fairfield 2-1 on September 12.
The Lancers, after withstanding a barrage of Nighthawk scoring chances in the first half and early in the second half, capitalized on a break when they converted a penalty kick after a card was assessed to the Nighthawks for foul in the 18 yard box. The goal snapped a scoreless deadlock with 24:26 to play.
The resilient Hawks responded with a goal moments later. Jack Vaughan made a run up the left wing and crossed the ball, which found its way through to Brendan O’Hara on the far side of the box. O’Hara placed a low shot back the other way, inside the left post, tying the score 1-1 with 23:08 showing on the scoreboard clock.
Newtown kept pushing with Oltran and Tom Skrelja combining to generate one of the better chances of the evening.
Rilind Limani had the decisive goal when he headed a cross from O’Hara into the net with 8:12 to play.
“That second half was as good as it gets under pressure,” Newtown Coach Nick Booth told his players in the postgame huddle.
Newtown’s players kept their heads up despite falling behind, Oltran said.
“We stayed calm and really possessed the ball more,” said Oltran, adding that the Nighthawks worked hard to get Notre Dame’s defenders to chase. “We were able to break them down and get two goals.”
Newtown’s game plan was to work the ball wide to the speedy O’Hara on the right and Skrelja on the left, as well as James Barden and Vaughan who add strong play on the outside. The Lancers double-teamed Newtown’s speedsters so Booth and the Hawks made one key tweak at halftime.
The Hawks tried successfully to keep the ball in the middle of the field, with Owen Sullivan and Tom Shkreli (not to be mistaken with Skrelja) controlling the play and pulling Notre Dame players to them, thus freeing up space on the outside.
“We can be dangerous when we hold the ball in midfield areas,” Booth said. “I’m glad that we were able to make that adjustment.”
“I was really proud of the group because they didn’t panic,” Booth added. “That’s a real character win — the way we won it, not just winning 2-1, but we won it the right way. We were composed, calm — two great finishes. I was really proud of the group.”
Trivers again made two saves. Booth was pleased with the effort of his defenders, Evan Eggleston, Hunter Procaccini, and Nick Weiland, who managed to shut down Notre Dame’s long-ball attack.
Read the complete article in the September 15 print edition of The Bee.