FAIRFIELD >> The Greenwich boys’ soccer team is headed back to the FCIAC title game.
Tied at two at the half against Staples, the Cardinals’ Nick Bartels scored the go-ahead goal in the 56th minute to give Greenwich the 3-2 victory Monday evening at Taft Field in the semifinals.
“I don’t know, maybe they just were desperate to get back into the final again,” Greenwich head coach Kurt Putnam said of his team’s second half play.
Greenwich will face No. 1 Ludlowe for the title on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Norwalk. Greenwich won the crown in 2013.
After a physical first 40 minutes that saw Greenwich battle back twice, the third-seeded Cardinals dominated a majority of the second half, keeping the ball in the Wreckers territory and forcing its opponent to play defense.
Staples keeper Noah Schwaeber did a good job of keeping his team alive and in the game, thwarting off a barrage of Norwalk shots, but the tall and athletic Bartels was able to capitalize on the pressure his team put on Staples and scored his second goal of the evening with just under 25 minutes left.
“When you got somebody like Nick (Bartels) up front, you know you always have a chance to score and win games,” Putnam said.
The 3-2 lead for Greenwich gave them more momentum that they rode for the remained of the game.
“They had the lead and then they were able to then put their imprint on the game, more than we would have wished,” Staples head coach Dan Woog said.
Staples (10-6-2) took the 1-0 lead nearly three minutes into the contest off a controversial own goal. Gabe Pensak’s throw-in went into the goal for the score, but Greenwich argued it was not touched, thus could not be a goal. The referees ruled that the ball touched a Greenwich defender on its way to the goal, however.
The Cardinals answered right back as Alejandro MacLean scored to tie the game at 1.
With 20:34 left in the game, Staples’ Josh Berman header gave his team back the lead with a 2-1 advantage.
Greenwich’s offense was not to be denied though as Bartels tied the game at two; he was the recipient of a corner kick that bounced around in front the box that found its way to Bartels who booted it home.
With the loss, Staples now will prepare for the Class LL State Tournament.
“We hope to have five more games,” Woog said.