MILFORD – Both the Bullard Havens and Platt Tech boys soccer teams lack experience this season. Each team is looking for new faces to step up.
Facing each other for the first time this season, both teams got exactly what they needed as young faces played a role in a 2-2 draw in a Constitution State Conference-West contest at Platt Tech Thursday afternoon.
“We are a young group,” Platt Tech coach Acacio Vaz said. “We lost three key players from last year, a goalkeeper and two defenders. We have a freshman goalkeeper who knows how to play the game, but he is still inexperienced. He has to learn and get that experience. He is doing a tremendous job. He will learn and get more confidence.”
For Platt Tech, which moved to 0-1-1, freshman goalkeeper Justin Brunetti had to come up big several times to allow the Panthers time to score a late goal to force the tie. Brunetti finished the game with eight saves, none of which were particularly easy.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jose Garcia did the same for Bullard Havens as he came away with five saves and was big down the stretch when the Panthers picked up the pace in the latter part of the second half.
“We have some nice, young kids,” Bullard Havens coach Gino Montanaro said. “We have a good mix. We have to find what works”.
The Tigers controlled play for the better part of the first half and took a dozen shots. With the better scoring opportunities, the Tigers were unable to solve Brunetti until 11 minutes, 52 seconds remained in the half.
Sophomore Enjinna Ugenyi sent a perfect ball from midfield to senior Bartosz Orlowski and Orlowski cut a shot past Brunetti for a 1-0 lead.
Until that point, it was the play of Brunetti which stood out as he stopped Orlowski after a perfect pass from Braylan Marin in front just 11 minutes into the contest. Orlowski was denied again by Brunetti from 20 yards out with 14 minutes left in the half.
Brunetti kept the Panthers in the contest when he made a big save in the final five minutes of the opening half, denying Nelson Funes from the side of the goal five yards out.
“We were discombobulated early,” Vaz said. “We let them control the ball the way they wanted.”
After the Panthers’ Genaro Nophal was denied off a corner kick 10 minutes into the second half, Bullard Havens took a 2-0 lead with 19:05 left in the game.
Edgar Xicointercall fed Nilson Crespo with a perfect ball and Crespo ripped a laser past Brunetti to the top right corner from 25 yards out.
“We outshot them and outplayed them, and we make two mistakes to get them two goals,” Montanaro said. “That’s tough. We will be effective if we go out there and play like we did in the first half. We have a brand new goalkeeper and a brand new defense. We are going to get better.”
With the game seemingly in hand for the Tigers, a touch pass from the Panthers turned the tide of the contest. That pass by junior Connor Moore found Julio Chacon in front and Chacon neatly tapped the ball off the side of his foot past Garcia to get the Panthers within a goal with 16:48 remaining.
As the momentum swung to Platt’s side, the Panthers needed just 7:33 to get the equalizer. Off a free kick, Nophal ripped a shot from 25 yards out to the corner of the net to even the game at two.
“We picked it up in the second half,” Vaz said. “We had some chances early, but we did not finish. We got better chances in the second half and we were able to score. It is a long season. We have to put all the pieces together. We will get a lot better.”
Bullard Havens held a 15-10 shot advantage in the contest.
Bullard-Havens 2, Platt Tech 2
Bullard-Havens 1 1 — 2
Platt Tech 0 2 — 2
First half—BHU: Bartosz Orlowski (Enjinna Ugenyi) 28:08; Second half—BHU: Nilson Crespo (Edgar Xicointercall) 60:55; PT: Julio Chacon (Connor Moore) 63:12; Genaro Nohpal 70:45;
Shots—BHU: 15; PT: 10;
Saves—BHU: Jose Garcia 5; PT: Justin Brunetti 8;
Records—Bullard-Havens 0-2-1; Platt Tech 0-1-1