TORRINGTON >> The Metropolitan Learning Center (MLC) beat Wolcott Tech 2-1 in a boys soccer game at Torrington’s Bishop Donnelly Field Monday afternoon when good Wildcat size turned into their second-half undoing.
For most of the game, Tech’s size and MLC’s speed and foot skills cancelled each other out.
Each side had a goal in the first half. Fifteen minutes into the second, a Wolcott Tech knockdown in the penalty box turned into a game-winning PK for the Dragons.
The teams came into their season-opener with similar records from last year – 5-7-1 for the Dragons, 5-8-3 for the Wildcats – and similar hopes for improvement.
“We have a deep talent pool with a lot of new kids,” said Tech senior Mitch Sorensen.
MLS, playing in the Capitol Region Athletic League (CRAL) for its fourth season, is still too small for a JV program.
“Kids who would be JVs have to grow up fast,” said one of the coaches.
The Dragons are rich in talented freshmen and sophomores (just three seniors) but physically small as a result.
Talent and speed overcame their youth in the 17th minute of the first half.
MLC freshman Taj-Roi Newman passed to sophomore Sam Agyei 20 yards out on the left side of the net. Agyei’s shot got through Tech keeper Kyle Jansen’s arms for the game’s first goal.
“I said, ‘Okay, you proved you can score,” said Head Coach Julio Santesteban, who grew up playing in Columbia, eventually at the national level.
“I wanted our defense to meet them in the center of the field,” he said.
In the 27th minute, Sorensen drove past them on the left wing. MLC keeper Nick Roman came out to meet him. Sorensen drilled it past him for the tie.
For the remaining 17 minutes of the first half and 15 minutes of the second, play balanced out with missed shots and good defense on both sides, intensity building.
In the 15th minute, an MLS player dropped in the penalty box in a collision with a bigger Wildcat.
Jackson Isaiah stepped to the penalty line, drilling his shot into the left side of the net for the winner.
Nursing the lead in an even game, Coach Santesteban pulled some of his skilled offensive players back on defense.
“One goal is nothing,” he told his players.
The Wildcats pressed hard, dominating possession and shots for the rest of the game.
Roman and his defense withstood the pressure, highlighted with a hard Tech shot on goal batted just over the net with eight minutes left.
Metropolitan Learning Center 2, Wolcott Tech 1
At Bishop Donnelly Field, Torrington
MLC 1 1 – 2
Wolcott Tech 1 0 – 1
Goals: MLC – Sam Agyei; Jackson Isaiah (PK). WT – Mitch Sorensen. Assist: MLC – Taj-Roi Newman. Shots: 14-10 WT. Saves: MLC – Nick Roman 10. WT – Kyle Jansen 7.
Records: MLC 1-0; Wolcott Tech 0-1.