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BOYS SOCCER Playoff push

October 9, 2018

GREENWICH — Each side was rewarded for 80 minutes of entertaining soccer.

The Greenwich High School and Westhill High School boys soccer teams helped their FCIAC playoff hopes Monday by battling to a 2-2 tie in the mist at Cardinal Stadium.

Greenwich (6-3-1) moved out of a tie for sixth place and closer to fourth place in the eight-team playoff structure.

Westhill (4-4-2) remained in ninth place in the playoff hunt with the deadlock.

SO MANY CHANCES BUT...

The Greenwich High attack kept Westhill’s latest goalie Michael Leiva (a senior making his third start) extremely busy as he amassed 11 of his 15 saves in the first half.

Greenwich sent numerous shots high over the crossbar or just tantalizingly wide during the clash.

“We need to finish teams off,” Greenwich coach Kurt Putnam. “We worked hard. We created so many chances. We have to start putting them away.”

Greenwich, 5-0-2 in its last seven games, answered both Westhill goals very quickly Monday.

Westhill’s David Torres converted a penalty kick after a trip in the box just 7:32 into the clash.

However, Greenwich’s Shoki Araki forged a 1-1 deadlock at 15:04, scoring after a long throw-in by Dan Bourgeois and a feed by Weejim Kwak.

Westhill grabbed a 2-1 edge with 27:35 to go. But Greenwich’s Davi Pedreiro scored with 26:26 remaining off a long indirect kick by Chris Cruz for 2-2.

“We did tie it up twice very quickly,” GHS coach Putnam said. “But we gave Westhill some easy opportunities as well.”

Greenwich senior tri-captain Jimmy Johnson (eight saves) put the exclamation point on the action. He made two key saves in the final minute from point blank range.

WESTHILL PUTS BEST FOOT FORWARD

Westhill is showing itself to be a team that has grown and improved as the season has gone along.

Leiva has been solid and aggressive in his three starts in net for the Vikings.

The Westhill defense (Julien Matrullo, Chris Matrullo, Eric Zagaja, David Garcia, Emir Hrustemovic) was unyielding against a plethora of high balls and long entry passes from the speedy GHS forwards.

“Our defense is communicating well. There were hectic moments. But we did what we had to do to stop Greenwich,” Westhill’s Zagaja said. “Early in the year our defense wasn’t great. But now our chemistry is better. We are more aggressive.”

It was Zagaja who gave Westhill its brief edge in the second half with a beautiful bicycle kick goal.

“I couldn’t head the ball. I just felt the bicycle kick was in me,” Zagaja said. “This is the first time I’ve scored with it in a game. I just got lucky. I was surprised when it went in.”

Westhill has fashioned ties with FCIAC playoff contenders Trumbull and Greenwich around a tough 1-0 loss to perennial power Staples High.

“I’m very proud of our group. Greenwich is such a strong team,” Westhill coach Joe Andrews said. “We were tied at halftime. Our message was ‘Keep fighting. Keep fighting.’ We hung in. And we didn’t give up. This is a tie we can celebrate because of our heart and our guts.”

rdepreta

@stamfordadvocate.com

WESTHILL 2, GREENWICH 2

WESTHILL 1 1—2

GREENWICH 1 1—2

Records: Westhill 4-4-2 FCIAC; Greenwich 6-3-1 FCIAC.

Goals: W—David Torres (penalty kick) 7:32; Eric Zagaja 52:25. G—Shoki Araki 15:04; Davi Pedreiro 53:34. Assists: W—Dylan Sparks. G—Dan Bourgeois, Weejim Kwak, Chris Cruz. Goalies: W—Michael Leiva (15 saves). G—James Johnson (8 saves).

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