WEST HAVEN – Needing a win to punch a ticket in the upcoming Southern Connecticut Conference tournament, it comes as no surprise seniors Salah Oumorou and Abdoul Aremu led the way.
Scoring 2 minutes, 56 seconds into the second half, Oumorou’s goal held up as West Haven topped Hamden 2-0 in a SCC interdivision contest at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Monday evening.
“It’s a great win for us,” Oumorou said after scoring his team-leading 17th goal. “You want to win on Senior Night. We had to win to get in the SCCs. I am proud of my team and everyone.”
The win by the Westies helped them improve to 8-5-2, and more importantly secured a wildcard spot in the tournament and improved the seeding for the Class LL state tournament.
“We have relied on them all year,” West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said of Oumorou and Aremu. “We count on them big time. The defense was strong like we expected. We have strung some shutouts together and are undefeated in our last five.”
With a scoreless first half, West Haven put the early pressure on in the second half. After taking a perfect feed from junior Ty Reeves, Oumorou came down the left wing and blasted a shot past Hamden goalkeeper Simon Pinela to the top left corner for a 1-0 West Haven lead.
With both teams each having a pair of scoring opportunities denied in the second half, the Westies put the game away with 5:28 remaining. Taking a pass from Marcus Anyafulu, Aremu roofed a shot past Pinela to seal the West Haven win.
“It feels very good,” Aremu said. “It was our last home game on Senior Night. The whole team worked hard to make the SCC’s. It is about team work, which is really important. Everyone stepped up, the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.”
Hamden had a pair of solid scoring opportunities. A header by Emmanuel Yeboah was stopped by West Haven goalkeeper Adam Saier, before Saier made one of his four saves by denying Andrew Kirschenbaum from 20 yards out with 18 minutes to go.
“I thought we outplayed them,” Hamden coach Ralph Romano said after his team fell to 7-5-3. “We had a lot of the possession, but they went up 2-0 and went into a defensive shell. This is one of the better games we have played all year. The score does not show it. We are playing a really tough West Haven team. They have some kids who are like playing men against boys. They play to their strengths very well.”
In a tightly contested first half, neither team was able to get on the scoreboard despite each team having a quality scoring opportunity.
After Hamden’s Tyler Newman had his shot denied from 25 yards less than two minutes in, Michael Laouette shot wide from 15 yards out 8:20 in. Andrew Kirschenbaum shot a laser over the net from 25 yards out with 14:45 remaining in the opening half.
The Westies pressured and had one dynamic chance to get on the scoreboard with 25:30 left in the opening half as Oumorou raced in and blasted a rocket towards the lower right corner which seemed destined for a goal. Pinela dove to his left and knocked away Oumorou’s blast at the last second.
“Everyone came out strong,” Oumorou said. “It was teamwork. Everyone’s family was here and we wanted to make them proud.”
Pinela made eight saves in the loss for Hamden.
West Haven 2, Hamden 0
(at West Haven)
Hamden 0 0 — 0
West Haven 0 2 — 2
Second half—WH: Salah Oumorou (Ty Reeves) ; Abdoul Aremu (Marcus Anyafulu); Shots—HA: 8; WH: 6.