Raiders boys soccer gets by Oxford, 1-0. Wassik stars in goal.
TORRINGTON: A week after starting their 2016 campaign with a stirring 4-0 win on the road against Holy Cross, the Torrington boys soccer team came home to take on a team expected to be amongst the upper echelon of the Naugatuck Valley League this year.
The Oxford Wolverines came to Torrington having scored 12 goals in their first two games this year against Crosby (7-1) and Wolcott (5-0) but left without finding the back of the net once as the Raiders and a stingy defense came away with the 1-0 win.
Austin Todd scored the game’s lone goal at the 22:14 mark of the first half off an assist by Ben Vanotti and the Raiders defense and their goalie did the rest.
Luke Wassik, one of two goal keepers the Raiders may use this year, stopped a breakaway opportunity by the Wolverines Ali Kolici four minutes into the second half by tipping the ball over the post.
All was not tremendous in Raider land though.
Head coach Mike Fritch is happy to be 2-0 (the Raiders started 1-3 a year ago) but feels his team was not as crisp as a week ago against the Crusaders.
“I think we took a step back tonight,” Fritch said. “We were second to every ball all night tonight. They beat us up in the middle and that should be our strength. We didn’t perform the way I would have liked us to. We just didn’t put the intensity and skill together. We have the skills but if you don’t come with the heart and intensity you end up having one of those games.”
The home teams skill set was on display for the first 20 minutes of the match as the Raiders dominated play in the Wolverines end.
Naseem Thompson, who is a delight to watch in the open field with his foot skills and speed, came close on several occasions and just missed scoring the contests first goal at the 24:06 mark when his shot went wide of the net off a shot from the left portion of the box.
Thompson is no secret to the NVL, even just two games in and drew double coverage at times from the Oxford defense.
Less than two minutes later though, the Raiders got the only goal they needed when Todd took a crossing pass from Vanotti and slammed it into the left side of the net as he loaded up on a shot from the right side.
Oxford began putting more pressure on the home team as they began controlling the middle while setting up runs by Kalici in particular.
It was Kalici who found himself behind the Raiders defense at the 36:45 mark of the second half and his shot looked destined for the left top corner of the Torrington goal before Wassik rose up and deflected the shot well over the cross bar.
The Raiders had a golden opportunity to add to their one goal lead when Brandon Stater stepped to the line for a penalty shot after an Oxford hand ball in front of the goal with 25:11 left in the game.
Oxford goalie William Richter stopped the Stater shot and two additional rebound tries by the Raiders to keep it a one score game.
The Raiders got great defensive play from Alex Segovia, who has that calm and foot skills that make a great stopper along with Scott Dixon and Ryan Nader who each have the ability to defend or attack as play dictates.
So, a win is a win and the Raiders will take it.
They’re 2-0 with a big game against Watertown on the road Tuesday.
The Indians are off to a 2-1 start after beating St Paul 7-2 on Friday night.
A more consistent combination of talent and heart will be needed if the Raiders want to keep moving forward, not back.