MONROE — The first loss of the season for the Masuk boys soccer team was so dispiriting that it caused coach Antonio Viscuso to lose sleep.
Perhaps he will rest a bit easier, though, after the Panthers’ latest effort.
The Panthers responded to their lone blemish by edging Newtown 2-1 on Tuesday at Benedict Field.
“This is how we bounce back,” said Viscuso, whose team lost 1-0 to Barlow last Thursday. “As I told the boys, this is what shows a championship-caliber team, when we bounce back in adversity.”
Two goals from forward Ryan Winkler in the first six-plus minutes were the difference for the Panthers, who edged one of the teams closest to them in the SWC standings.
The Panthers improved to 9-1-1 while Newtown dropped to 8-2-1.
“We started off really hot,” Winkler said, “and we found a way to finish off the game with a win. That’s all that really matters.”
The Nighthawks cut into the lead in the 37th minute on a goal by Jack Oltran, but scoring chances in the second half came few and far between against Masuk’s disciplined defense. They registered only three shots in each half.
“They worked hard, but it wasn’t quality work,” Newtown coach Nick Booth said. “There wasn’t enough quality in the final third or the middle third of the second half.”
The Nighthawks found themselves trailing just 96 seconds into the match when defender Matthew Machan sent the ball back into the box after a free kick. Standing alone waiting was Winkler, who beat Cam Trivers for a 1-0 lead. Booth said after the match that he thought Winkler was offsides on the play.
The Panthers doubled their lead with 33:34 remaining in the half thanks to Winkler.
“We had two lapses defensively, again, which we cannot have,” Booth said. “We’ve defended pretty well this year, but the two were sloppy.”
Overcoming a two-goal deficit against perhaps the SWC’s toughest defense proved to be too much to ask of the Nighthawks.
“Newtown’s had difficulty scoring goals this year, so we knew that two would put us in a comfortable situation,” Viscuso said.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ryan Winkler, Masuk, F: The junior scored twice in the first six-plus minutes to give the Panthers an early jolt against one of their main competitors in the SWC.
STICK TO YOUR STYLE
Newtown coach Nick Booth was displeased with his team’s performance in the second half, believing that instead of playing to their own strategy, they chased the more physical Panthers around the field. “That’s the first one of these,” Booth said. “We controlled the game against New Milford (a 2-1 loss), and the last 10 minutes we were just a little unfortunate. Today was our first test, ‘Can we hold the ball against a big, physical team in good areas of the field?’ We couldn’t do it.”
“I think we let down our guard for a moment, and then we realized that Newtown is a very good team and we can’t do that against this team. We had to pick it right back up and pick the pressure back.” — Winkler on how his team responded to Newtown’s goal
MASUK 2, NEWTOWN 1
NEWTOWN 1 0—1
MASUK 2 0—2
Records: Newtown 8-2-1; Masuk 9-1-1. Scoring: N — Jack Oltran 1g, Rilind Limani 1a; M — Ryan Winkler 2g, Matt Machan 1a, Sam Forsythe 1a. Goalies: N — Cam Trivers (7 saves); M — Forsythe (2). Shots: N — 6; M — 11.