NEW MILFORD — The New Milford boys soccer team hadn’t even finished warming up yet when they yielded the opening goal less than 90 seconds into its game against Newtown.
Considering the Nighthawks had allowed just two goals all season prior to Tuesday, the order of getting anything out of the game was made even taller.
No problem, though.
Senior Matt Clarke poked home a shot with 3:40 left off a scramble in the box, sending the Green Wave to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Newtown. The Nighthawks (7-1-1) were handed their first loss.
On a night where little was going its way despite waves of possession, New Milford got one bounce when a cross wasn’t dealt with, and Clarke fired it into an open goal.
“I just saw a ball come across and there was a possibility the goalie would not get to it,” Clarke said. “He didn’t, and I was lucky. Right place, right time.”
Brendan O’Hara gave the Nighthawks a dream start with a well-taken goal from a sharp angle. Instead of cutting inside, O’Hara unleashed a shot from the wing that caught New Milford off guard and snuck into the goal.
New Milford (4-2-3) responded well and had the bulk of the possession and fashioned several chances to tie the game. Newtown had the better of the play in the second half, but was unable to add the crucial second goal that would have likely wrapped up the game.
And unlike so many games this season where the Nighthawks were able to hold on in the final stages to secure the three points, New Milford struck swiftly to claim the win.
“I thought 1-0 with 12 minutes left we were comfortable,” Newtown coach Nick Booth said. “We’ve had a good year and we were due for one of these where we were a little unlucky, and that happens. We got just a little sloppy in the last 10 minutes.”ac
Erik Byrnes knotted the game at 1-1 with 12:03 remaining when a long throw in from Clarke was eventually cleared to his feet, and he rifled a shot from the edge of the box that curled away from Newtown goalie Cam Trivers and into the goal. Byrnes had just come onto the field after a temporary rest.
“I told him when he went in, have a shot,” New Milford coach Greg LaCava said. “The ball is wet, the ground is wet, get out there and hit it. It didn’t take him long to do that.”
Soon after, Clarke fired the winner.
Newtown had one final chance to possibly earn a point, but a corner kick as time expired was cleared by the New Milford defense.
After a 2-2 draw with Barlow last Thursday, the Green Wave thought they were headed in the right direction. Tuesday’s result verifies that.
“I know we’ve been playing well, we’ve been getting better every day,” LaCava said. “I knew the results would follow soon; it’s good to get a big win like this at home.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Pat Anderson, New Milford: The central defender thwarted most of Newtown’s attacks, particularly in the second half.
“No one is going unbeaten this year,” Booth said. “Any of these teams can beat anybody; these are difficult matches. Now we’ll see what kind of character we have.”
Newtown is home to Pomperaug Thursday at 7 p.m. while New Milford hosts Kolbe next Tuesday.
NEW MILFORD 2, NEWTOWN 1
NEW MILFORD0 2—2
Records: Newtown 7-1-1, New Milford 4-2-3. Goals: N—Brendan O’Hara; NM—Erik Byrnes, Matt Clark. Goalies: N—Cam Trivers (6 saves); NM—Brandon Romero (3 saves).