WILTON — Five days after showing the kind of inconsistency evidenced by all fall sports squads, which lacked normal practice time in this pandemic-affected season, the Wilton boys soccer team made a dramatic move forward this afternoon, displaying glimpses of the form that led it to the Class L final game 11 months ago.
Led by Nathan Bennett and a strong defensive effort, the Warriors scored three times in a seven-minute span in the second half and pulled away for a 4-0 home win over Staples.
“It really just came down to that commitment in the final third,” Wilton coach Edwin Carvajal said. “We made a couple of adjustments and when it came down to the second half the guys just wanted it a little bit more. The passes were crisper, the communication among the boys in the midfield was a lot smoother and the ball was moving fluidly from side to side. Gameplan achieved.”
Bennett ended up with one goal and two assists, showing his ability to create as well as finish, and displaying the threat he poses each time he lines up for a set piece.
“We talked before the game about not forcing it in the middle and kind of waiting for an opportunity to get it in the middle to our forward players, and we did that very well and tired them out,” Bennett said. “More exciting, more attacking. We looked a lot better today. More composed on the ball. It showed on the scoreline.”
What will get lost in the flurry of goal scoring was the play of the Wilton defense. The Wreckers controlled time of possession in the first half but trailed after Zac Abud’s header off a Bennett set piece in the 17th minute.
Staples played well but had a difficult time turning chances into opportunities because of the Warriors’ defense, led by Arhav Soi.
“It was really about cleaning up the back line and making sure we weren’t making those silly mistakes that really just cost us,” Carvajal said.
The Wreckers (0-2-1) came out strong to start the second half, but lost steam when Bennett made a run into the left side of the defense and had his crossing ball put home by Matthew Kolezsar.
“I had him one on one so I said why not take him on,” Bennett said. “I was in the box and I could have gotten fouled or anything could have happened. I said why not.”
Seven minutes later the Warriors’ lead had doubled. In a play reminiscent of a year ago, they cleared a Staples corner kick and got the ball out on the left side to Oliver Dahlen, who sent a perfect through ball to Owen Lillis for a one-touch score.
“You saw the moment the counter started, two, three years ago maybe three players would have gone but the moment Oilver got the ball you saw four or five guys surging, which was fantastic, that desire to get up,” Carvajal said.
Bennett completed the scoring moments later with a hard shot.
“It’s an 80-minute game,” Staples coach Dan Woog said. “The second goal was a pretty tough one. Sort of took the air out. We’ve got some young guys out there and it’s a process and it’s the middle of a process.”
Wilton will have another five days off — due to the death of a student at its school it postponed Monday’s game with Ridgefield — as it continues to build on the high expectations of this abbreviated season.
“That’s what we’re striving for every day and I believe they can be better,” Carvajal said. “It really just takes time. These guys have to play together, have to learn each other’s mannerisms. They are starting to click. They’re not there, they’re not where I want us to be yet but it is definitely a big step forward.”