PORTLAND >> It took some time to get going, but the Xavier boys soccer team remained unbeaten with a 3-0 victory against Hamden Wednesday afternoon at the TD Bank Oakwood Soccer Park in Portland.
Xavier (8-0-3) controlled the possession for most of the first half as the Falcons got better touches and made smoother passes. The first shot on goal came three minutes in when Xavier senior Brendan Butler beat his defender, but his shot missed on the ground wide right. Five minutes later, senior Joe McCormack fired a shot about 25 yards out but Hamden junior goalkeeper Nicholas Cappiello made the save.
One of the best opportunities for the Green Dragons in the first half came off an indirect kick on the left side to senior Hector Zepeta, who set and fired right at Falcons senior goalie Dan Miela.
“We tried to go in a little harder and they did try to cut off passes and give high pressure,” said Hamden coach Joaquin Rodriguez on his team’s first half strategy.
With 16 minutes left in the first half, Falcons sophomore Cesar Rivera came in off the bench and made it count as Rivera took the ball down the left side and snuck one past Capiello at the left post.
“He comes off the bench and gives us a lot of energy,” said Xavier coach Brian Fitzgerald.
The physical play took its toll on the Hamden side. The Green Dragons lost two players to injury in the first half and they didn’t return.
Hamden looked like a different team coming out of the break. Trailing 1-0, the Green Dragons controlled possession early in the first half but couldn’t finish. Freshman Andrew Kirschenbaum, senior Alejandro Perez and junior Martin Nunez all took shots within a six minute span but none of them found the back of the net.
Midway through the second half Xavier turned the momentum. McCormack found sophomore Joey Zacchia in front of the goal, about 10 yards out where Zacchia jumped, took the pass off his right foot and redirected it into the top left corner of the net.
“The second half we kind of woke up, we started playing the way we were supposed to be playing, knocking the ball around, filling up and creating opportunities and finishing,” said Fitzgerald.
Five minutes later, Zacchia did it again. He took a pass from Butler up the middle and when Capiello dove to disrupt the play, Zacchia pushed the ball passed him from the edge of the box for his second goal of the game.
“(Zacchia’s) great up top,” said Fitzgerald. “He’s a great finisher. A lot of our offense goes through him. We look for him to score goals and create goals for us.”
The Falcons trail only Amity (9-0-2) for the No. 1 seed in the Southern Connecticut Conference standings.
“Xavier played their good style of soccer; ball on the ground, switch the field, go forward,” said Rodriguez. “They know how to play.”