FAIRFIELD — Felipe Canzian didn’t get mad. He just got even.
The senior forward for the Notre Dame-Fairfield boys’ soccer team, after a first half where he was intensely marked by a host of Stratford defenders and came up empty despite three solid scoring chances, could have gotten frustrated — especially as the Red Devils held a 1-0 halftime lead — instead, he simply cranked up his resolve and single-handedly stole away a victory.
Scoring on a penalty kick and brilliant drive downfield in the second half, Notre Dame-Fairfield rallied for a 2-1 win over Stratford Tuesday afternoon at the Park Avenue Field, a game that was crucial for the momentum of the Lancers heading toward the second half of the season.
“Keeping my head up and staying focused on the game was huge because that allows me to score more goals,” said Canzian, who has five of the Lancers’ seven goals this season. “This win was important to us because we don’t have a lot of chances to score goals and this was a big three points for us.”
Notre Dame-Fairfield improved to 2-4-1 on the year after an early season schedule that saw them play (and lose to) Masuk, Newtown and Barlow. Stratford, also battling youth and inexperience, fell to 0-5.
“I have a relatively young team, it’s a bunch of inexperienced players but having said that, you can’t win games unless you score goals,” Red Devils coach Alvin Charley said. “We scored one but we threw away three of four other chances. We gave away, way too many and when that happens, it comes back to bite you.”
Both teams came into the game desperate for a win. Stratford was winless in its opening four games, being outscored 21-2 in the process while the Lancers had managed just one victory in its initial six starts, being outscored 16-5. And early on, it seemed like ND would grab the momentum as both Canzian and Matt Nieto had solid chances but were denied by Red Devils keeper Anjel Juarez.
Stratford scored midway through the first half as Zach Fedak came down the left side, caught Lancers keeper Marcelo DeSouza out of position and beat him to the right corner with 21:54 left, for a 1-0 lead.
“I have a relatively young team, it’s a bunch of inexperienced players but having said that, you can’t win games unless you score goals,” Charley said. “We scored one but we threw away three of four other chances. We gave away, way too many and when that happens, it comes back to bite you.”
With 24:07 to play, ND-Fairfield drew even when Carlos Alfaro was taken down in the box and Canzian converted the penalty kick to tie the game at 1-1. Just six minutes later, the Lancers took the lead as Canzian took a pass from Alfaro, got some space down the left wing and beat Juarez with a sharp-angled shot for a 2-1 lead.
“A penalty shot is a penalty shot but that second goal was beautiful. A class goal,” ND-Fairfield coach Whitey Budreckas said. “It’s very difficult for a man to do everything by himself. If he doesn’t use his teammates, the defense gangs up on him, they put two or three people on him all the time, it’s very hard.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Notre Dame’s Felipe Canzian. His two second half goals lifted the Lancers to a much-needed win. ND has scored just seven goals in seven games this season, Canzian has five of them.
“It’s kind of hard to play with this new team because we do have a lot of young players. We lost a lot of starters from last year and we’re doing as well as we can and we’re hoping to get better.” — ND-Fairfield senior Felipe Canzian
“We keep on practicing over and over as far as controlling the ball and looking for each other, don’t panic and for some reason when they get on the field, the attitude changes. When they’re on the field, they lose their focus. I don’t know why, maybe because we’re young.” — ND-Fairfield coach Whitey Budreckas
NOTRE DAME 2, STRATFORD 1
STRATFORD 1 0 — 1
ND-FAIRFIELD 0 2 — 2
Records: ND — 2-4-1; S — 0-5
Goals: S — Zach Fedak; ND — Felipe Canizan (2). Assists: ND — Carlos Alfaro. Goalies: S — Anjel Juarez (2 saves); ND — Marcelo DeSouza (6 saves). Shots: S — 10; ND — 15