The good Falcon team, seeded third in the Tournament, held No. 2 Torrington to a 2-1 win in the Red Raiders’ second game of the season.
Monday, first-half goals by Dennis Cardenas and Amar Suljic seemed like a safe lead. When Chris Parrotta added Torrington’s third goal five minutes into the second half, the Raiders cruised into a slow-it-down game that showed their dominance even more than the scores.
“We picked the right time to play our best soccer,” said Torrington coach Mike Fritch, basking in a string of six straight Raider shutouts (13 for the year), including Saturday’s 5-0 tournament opener against No. 7 Wilby.
St. Paul coach Tony Leone thought his team went the other way.
“Win or lose, it was a great opportunity to play a good team, to get ready for the (state) tournament,” said Wilby. “We didn’t show up to play.”
True to form for this year’s Raiders, they did.
“Good things happen when you play hard,” said Cardenas, a senior who came back from serious injury to help the team this year. “We have our arguments, but we’re basically all a family.”
“We have a complete arsenal up front,” said Suljic. “Any of us can score.”
The Raiders threatened as early as the second minute. St. Paul goalkeeper Zach Federowicz (11 saves) bobbled a shot momentarily. Three Torrington players stood by for a kill.
Not this time.
Falcon captain Nick Villani drove a hard shot at Raider keeper Zack Paniati (4 saves) in the third minute.
Then all the real pressure came from Torrington: the game’s first corner kick in the fifth minute; a header into the side of the net off a Parrotta throw-in in the eighth; another shot just over the net off a Shane Bierfeldt throw-in, 10 minutes in; a point blank shot at Federowicz in the 12th.
The Falcon dam broke 20 minutes into the game.
Parrotta worked in from the left in his patented one-man pinch from the wing.
“Whether I shoot or not depends on whether the defenders come out,” said Parrotta.
This time, they did.
Parrotta passed to Cardenas, 10 yards straight out from the goal. Cardenas whipped it home, 1-0.
The Torrington snowball continued to roll: Federowicz just won a race for the ball 10 minutes from the half; a Kevin Vaca left foot, just right of the goal, seven minutes left; a nice Federowicz save on a bullet from Bierfeldt, six minutes from the half.
Five minutes from halftime, Amar Suljic ripped the unstoppable — a rising line drive into the upper left corner of the net from 30 yards out. Federowicz, leaping, got a hand on it. No use; this one would have scored in the Olympics.
“Sometimes, you just feel it,” Suljic grinned.
Five minutes into the second half, the Falcon defenders didn’t come out on Parrotta, advancing in from the left. Goal, 3-0.
Despite Coach Leone’s comments, nobody quit. The snowball just built.
Federowicz made a great save on another Walker shot. Paniati did it at the other end. Suljic bounced a shot off Federowicz.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Torrington’s backfield went into the most impressive play of all.
“We’ve learned you can slow down the pace,” said Coach Fritch. “Bad things happen when you try to play too fast. We’re very confident when the ball is on our feet.”
For long, long seconds of the last 20 minutes, the Torrington defense worked the ball in the backfield, often unchallenged.
In some ways, it was a parallel to Parrotta’s pinch from the left side — damned if you charge it; damned if you don’t.
Torrington meets No. 1 seed Naugatuck at 5 p.m. Wednesday night at Municipal Stadium.
The Greyhounds edged Torrington 3-2 a month ago at Torrington High School.
“We want redemption,” said Parrotta.
“They’re 16-0 (regular season); we’re 15-1,” said Coach Fritch.
No. 2 Torrington 3, No. 3 St. Paul 0
At Watertown High School
St. Paul 0 0—0
Torrington 2 1—3
Goals: T—Dennis Cardenas; Amar Suljic; Chris Parrotta. Assists: T—Parrotta; Shane Walker. Shots: 14-7 Torrington. Saves: SP—Zach Federowicz 11. T—Zack Paniati 4.
Records: St. Paul 13-5; Torrington 17-1.
Reach Peter in the office at 860-489-3121 ext. 330