NEWTOWN — The Newtown and Brookfield high school boys soccer teams played to a 1-1 tie on Friday, an even result which elicited starkly contrasting reactions.
For a young Brookfield team trying to re-establish itself after graduating about a dozen seniors from last year’s state championship team, it was a solid performance on which to build for success in the future. It wasn’t a win, but it almost seemed like one.
“We played much better than we had in the last couple games,” Brookfield senior Connor Gruda said. “It has not been good, and we know that. So, even though we tied, we played well, and we all know that.”
At the other end of the field, Newtown was quite disappointed with its showing. The Nighthawks had won their first four games this season by a combined score of 11-1. This one wasn’t a loss, but it almost seemed like one.
“I feel bad for Brookfield. They were much better, and they should have won the game,” Newtown coach Nick Booth said. “We’ve played well this year, but today was a really poor performance. An immature performance from a mature group.”
After a scoreless first half, Kent Eannarino put Brookfield on the board first in the 43rd minute, scoring from about 20 yards out off a pass from Joshua Chung. Three minutes later, Owen Baillargeon tied it for Newtown, scoring off a feed in front from Brendan O’Hara.
Brookfield goalkeeper Jakob Mamudi made four saves, while Newtown’s C.J. Trivers made six, including one on a penalty kick midway through the second half with the score tied at 1.
“I just have to go out there and make the save, and that’s what I did,” Trivers said of his diving save on Eannarino’s penalty kick.
This was a bit of a breakout performance for Brookfield, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. On Tuesday, the Bobcats let a two-goal lead slip away in a 3-2 loss to Weston. They needed to come back strong on Friday, win or lose, and they did.
“The result actually came second for me today,” Brookfield coach David Lavery said. “What I was looking for was a big performance from the boys. The last three games we played, and to be fair, even the second half against New Milford (a 2-2 tie on Sept. 11), we just didn’t perform well. I needed a reaction. I needed an attitude check, and if there was one thing the boys gave me today, it was that.”
OH, SO CLOSE
Both teams had good chances to break the 1-1 tie in the finals minutes but came away empty. Newtown’s Jack Oltran saw his header go just a few inches wide of the post off a nifty feed from Thomas Skrelja in the 53rd minute. Brookfield’s David Walker ripped a sharp-angle shot off the outside of the goal post after a nice pass from Eannarino down the left wing in the 75th minute.
BROOKFIELD 1, NEWTOWN 1
BROOKFIELD0 1 — 1
NEWTOWN0 1 — 1
Records: Brookfield 2-2-2, 1-2-2 SWC; Newtown 4-0-1, 4-0-1 SWC. Goals: Bk—Kent Eannarino; Nt—Owen Baillargeon. Assists: Bk—Joshua Chung; Nt—Brendan O’Hara. Goalies: Bk—Jakob Mamudi (4 saves); Nt—C.J. Trivers (7 saves).