Greenwich boys soccer advances to CIAC class LL semis with 3-1 win over Amity

After a back-and-forth early first half, the Greenwich High School boys soccer team kept its foot on the pedal and didn’t let up, scoring once in the first half and twice more in the second to put away No. 3 seeded Amity Regional High School, 3-1 earlier today.

“It feels great,” said senior Pieter Zenner. “This is the first time in 12 years that we’ve got past the second round. We were excited today because we’ve already gotten past the second round, but we still knew there was work to be done. We wanted to take it a step further.”

Greenwich got a goal in both the first and second half from junior Mateo Gowland. Senior Pieter Zenner scored early in the second half to ice the game.

“It’s a great feeling,” Greenwich head coach Kurt Putnam said. “It’s been a long time in the program’s history and I am just looking forward to representing the county and FCIAC again.”

With the victory, Big Red advances to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL semifinal game, which will be played either Friday or Saturday against fellow Fairfield County school and No. 2 seeded Fairfield Prep.

Getting to the semifinal round of the state tournament has been something that’s eluded Putnam and the rest of the Cardinals for a while. It’s the first time in Putnam’s tenure that Greenwich has advanced to the semifinal round.

Traveling from Greenwich to Woodbridge, as well as playing on a grass pitch for one of the few times this season, threw Big Red off its game early, as the Spartans were able to key off several Greenwich miscues and get the ball towards net.

“We don’t ever practice on this or play on this,” Putnam said. “It was difficult for us to adjust. They had us on the back foot with really nothing on the end of it. They had us under a lot of pressure and we were struggling to get clearances, make passes, turning and we were falling over all the time. It was concerning, but with 20 minutes they really didn’t cause any problems. Although we weren’t playing particularly well, they weren’t capitalizing on the amount of possession that they actually did have.”

With 10:25, Amity’sJeremy Conn had a shot at net from point-blank range, but GHS goalie Emmett Clarke was there for the glove save. In fact, Greenwich didn’t get a shot on goal until only 13:01 was showing on the clock.

“We weren’t used to playing on the grass and we were slipping all over the place,” Zenner said. “Our passes weren’t connecting and it was a little frustrating, but we settled down, got used to it and the rest is history.”

However, the Cards came to play the rest of the way. Controlling the play late in the first half, Greenwich capitalized with 3:51 to play. Zenner was pushing the ball up the field and fired a dart to Will Gittings on the left side of the net. Gittings then hit the crossing pass to Gowland, who fired a shot from five yards out and found the back of the net.

Zenner was doing everything possible to get the ball in the back of the net in the second half. With 35:01 to play, he beat the Amity defense and was all alone, with only the goalie to beat. Instead of shooting, he passed off to Gowland, who couldn’t get a foot on the ball.

Five minutes later, Zenner charged the right side of the net and cut to the middle. Just before firing a shot, the Amity defense was able to get to the ball and deflect it out of harm’s way.

However, with 15:52 left in the game, Zenner came up huge. With the ball deep in the Amity zone, a GHS player passed back to Zenner, who was 15 yards away from net on the right side. Without hesitation, he blasted a shot high, which arched to the left top corner of net for the brilliant goal to give Big Red a 2-0 lead.

“I played three years of high school soccer on varsity and I’ve never hit a shot like that,” Zenner said. “Every single time you hope it comes out like that and that’s just one of them that happened exactly the way I wanted it to.”

Not only was Zenner impressed with the shot, as Putnam was still talking about that goal when the game ended.

“We’ll never see a shot better than that at any level,” Putnam said. “I don’t think any goal keeper would get anywhere close to saving it. That’s one of those goals that he’ll remember for a very long time. That was as clean as you could strike the ball. When that left his foot, we were all like ‘Oh my God.’”

Gowland netted Big Red’s final goal of the game when he took the pass from Zenner and beat the Amity goalie with 12:43 to play in the game.

Shortly after the GHS goal, Amity came charting back, as Justyn Broderick eluded the GHS defense and unloaded a shot high and to the right corner, however Greenwich’s Clarke made a leaping dive and got a hand on the ball for the deflection.

Amity finally got on the scoreboard with 8:30 to play, as Ian O’Brien-Cannon took the pass from Conn and found the back of the net.

The Cardinals almost got revenge on the Amity goal with 4:40 to play in the contest, as junior Ryan Flippin put the moves on two Amity defenders, charged towards the Spartan’s goalie and fired a shot that just missed the net.

With the victory, Greenwich upped its record to 16-3-2 and will battle the Jesuits in the class LL semifinals.

“Fairfield Prep is a great team,” Zenner said. “I know a couple of players on the team and it’s going to be really tough. It’s going to be on turf, so hopefully we can move the ball around a little better.

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress