Boys Soccer

Staples’ Upset Of Top-Seeded Glastonbury One For The Books

Evan Birns scored the game-winning goal for Staples today against Glastonbury. (Gregory Vasil)

There is no one who knows more about the history of the Staples boys soccer program than Dan Woog. He was a player, graduating in 1971, and became a coach four years later, ascending and assuming the head position in 2002. Woog at one point even covered the team for Westport’s then twice-weekly newspaper.

So when Woog called today’s stunning 3-2 win over Glastonbury in the second round of the Class LL tournament “probably the biggest and most dramatic upset in Staples soccer history,” it is not hyperbole.

Trailing the top-seeded Tomahawks, 2-0, after 14 minutes and playing without their starting goaltender, the Wreckers chipped away, scoring two late goals three minutes apart to come away with a 3-2 win.

Glastonbury had won two straight titles and five of the last six.

“It was the most amazing game I’ve ever been part of,” Woog said. “We’ve had some really big games but in many of those we were the favorite.”

With goalkeeper Reed Caney sidelined after picking up a red card in an opening-round win over Wilbur Cross and cast as a decided underdog, Woog said the first step was planning the best way to play Glastonbury.

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“We had a gameplan, and the gameplan was to press them,” Woog said. “That left us a little vulnerable defensively. And they’re studs. They’re fast, they’re quick, they’re well-coached, they believe in themselves, they’re confident. We gave the kids a choice of sitting back and bunkering in and trying for PKs or going at them. We had a back and forth discussion and the kids said let’s go for it, let’s press.”

That looked like the risky choice after Glastonbury scored twice early. But Alan Fiore converted a pass from Evan Birns to cut the deficit to 2-1 right before halftime.

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“We had confidence going into the second half,” Woog said. “We talked about making little tweaks and we are going to go at them and if we tie it up we are going to go for the win and not sit back.”

Sebi Montoulieu, who replaced Caney, made several big saves after the Tomahawks pressured midway through the second half. The Wreckers (11-5-4), the 17th seed, tied the game in the 74th minute when Lars Djuve tucked in a shot from about 10 yards out off an assist from Emerson Anvari.

Birns scored the game-winner in the 77th minute, taking on three players and curling a shot over the goalkeeper.

“It was just a great solo effort by Evan,” Woog said.

The Tomahawks had two corner kicks in the closing moments but the Staples defense stepped up.

“We have the utmost respect for Glastonbury,” Woog said. “They have been the class of the state for a decade, along with Farmington. “We said after the match it was a true team effort. The guys totally bought into our gameplan. They developed it. They did not give up when they were down 2-0. They went totally after it.”

The Wreckers have little time to enjoy the win. They go back on the road Friday for a quarterfinal match against Trumbull. The Eagles won their meeting last week in the FCIAC semifinals, 4-1. The teams played to a 2-2 tie during the regular season.