NORWALK — After suffering a three-goal loss to Bridgeport Central two weeks ago, the Staples High boys soccer team had to take a long, hard look at itself.
In the aftermath of that defeat — which coach Dan Woog called “an F-minus effort” — an impromptu captain’s practice re-ignited a fire under the team.
The result has been a three-game winning streak, including Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory over Brien McMahon at Casagrande Field.
Anton Mahr scored two goals to pace the effort for Staples, which improved to 5-2-2.
“It all started at Central when we got beat 3-0,” Mahr said. “We were very upset. We had a captain’s practice and got right to it. The hard work has really paid off since then.”
The loss to Central was the second straight defeat for the Wreckers, who had slipped to 2-2-2 with the loss.
“They were just so mad at themselves after Central,” Woog said. “It was just a bad game. We say we want to bring our A-plus game and that was just an F-minus. Today, this was probably a B-plus game.”
Staples plays at Westhill on Thursday.
A BIG ANSWER
McMahon had taken a 1-0 lead just nine minutes into the game when George Simpson tallied a goal for the Senators.
The Wreckers, however, answered within two minutes on a corner kick.
Matt Engler’s corner wasn’t cleared by the Senators and found its way to Mahr, who tied the game at 1-1 with the goal.
“He’s a sniper,” Woog said.
The goal not only snatched the momentum away from the Senators, but it also never should have happened, McMahon coach Rodrigo Guzman said.
“The biggest thing for us was a mental mistake on that goal,” he said. “It was two minutes after our goal. I tell the kids we have to go from zero-zero minutes to 80-zero minutes, playing perfectly, and today we didn’t do that.”
PLAY OF THE GAME
The winning goal was as pretty as they come and actually started more than 50 yards from the goal.
Staples’ Charlie Birch sent a perfectly placed and timed through ball up the right sideline where it was tracked down by teammate Timothy Liles.
“That was a great pass,” Woog said. “Those two like each other. They play well together.”
Liles then sent a cross to Mahr, who rifled a shot under McMahon goalie Norberto Santiago with 23 minutes to play.
“More and more, I’m just focusing on the momentum and keeping my eye on the ball,” Mahr said.
Guzman couldn’t be upset with Staples’ second tally.
“The second goal was a great goal by them,” Guzman said. “That goal? You can’t complain about it.”
SENATORS CLOSE AGAIN
While McMahon has three ties on its table, all to teams it lost to a season ago, the team is still looking for its first win — which stuns Woog.
“I don’t know how McMahon has the record they have,” Woog said. “That was a gritty performance by them, and a skillful performance.”
Santiago made six saves for the Senators, who got second-half scoring chances from Duly Bolivar, Elias Pardo and Emmet Towey.
The Senators play at Trinity Catholic on Thursday.
STAPLES 2, McMAHON 1
STAPLES 1 1—2
McMAHON 1 0—1
Records: Staples 5-2-2, McMahon 0-5-3; Goals: S—Anton Mahr 2, BM—Charlie Simpson; Assists: Timothy Liles; Goalkeepers: S—Ry Cohen (3 saves); BM-Norberto Santiago (6 saves).