WESTPORT — It seemed only fitting that Staples and Darien would play a throwback kind of game.
The Wreckers were celebrating their 60th anniversary and the Staples program has seen many, many games played in conditions similar to Saturday, where the rains from the night and the morning created a slick and muddy field.
As it turned out, neither team could generate any offense in what resulted in a scoreless tie for the two FCIAC boys soccer contenders in front of a packed crowd on the hill at Loeffler Field.
“It was a gritty game between two teams very close in the standings with neither team giving anything,” said Staples head coach Dan Woog, who has been a part of the program, as a player and a coach, for close to 48 years. “We stuck to our game plan very well and I think the alumni could relate to the battles we had out here.”
On some occasions when the weather wreaks havoc at the traditional grass field at Loeffler, Staples will shift its games to Wakeman Field, which is a turf field, at Bedford Middle School. Woog said the field was unavailable at the time of the game and to accommodate the big crowd of students, parents, teachers, alumni and supporters for the 60th anniversary celebration, the game had to be played at Loeffler. In addition, parking is limited at Wakeman and there is no scoreboard.
Darien coach Jon Bradley was quite vocal in his opposition to playing at Loeffler, but he was happy his team came away with a point despite the conditions.
“A point was a fair result,” Bradley said. “The fact that we’re not playing on a turf field is crazy. It was dangerous for both teams. It would’ve been a better game if we would’ve moved over to Wakeman to play on the turf.
“It was the same for both teams, it wasn’t any different for either one,” he added. “As a spectacle, it was really tough and I don’t think any team strung together more than three passes. It was just hit the forwards and hope you create something.”
Whereas the Wreckers had the better of the play in the first half, the Blue Wave stepped up in the second.
Staples did have a quality chance to break the deadlock in the 65th minute when Sam Liles found Lefty Penderakis in the middle of the box, but Penderakis’ shot hit off the left post. Gabe Baltierra gathered up the rebound, but his shot was wide, almost grazing off the left post out of bounds.
“We had plenty of chances,” Woog said. “We created chances, we defended well and our defense did a great job.”
CO-PLAYER S OF THE GAME
Staples’ Ry Cohen and Darien’s Christian Pllumbi
The goalkeepers each pitched a shutout with the former registering five saves and the latter making four.
“It’s been raining a lot this year so we’re used to it,” Staples’ Nick DiMasi said. “It was much harder for (Darien) to come out on it. I thought we played well, especially on defense.”
“With the rains, it’s not what we wanted on a grass field,” Darien’s Johan Trippitelli said. “Obviously we would’ve been better on a turf field so we could pass the ball and possess more but you have to play with what you’re given.”
“We have three games left in the season and it’s still a tight race for everybody,” Woog said.
“We have 60 years of people here and I hope we treated them to a good game and I hope they saw the grit and the passion that our guys have,” Woog said.
Staples at Fairfield Ludlowe under the lights on Monday while Darien hosts Westhill on Thursday.
STAPLES 0, DARIEN 0
DARIEN 0 0—0
STAPLES0 0 —0
Records: Staples 7-2-4, Darien 6-3-4. Goalies: S—Ry Cohen (5 saves); D—Christian Pllumbi (4 saves); Shots: Staples 14, Darien 5; Corners: Staples 4, Darien 4.