BOYS SOCCER: Back-to-back early strikes carry Hamden over Sheehan

BOYS SOCCER: Back-to-back early strikes carry Hamden over Sheehan

Record-Journal


WALLINGFORD — A bigger, stronger, more experienced side from Hamden scored early. The younger, smaller boys from Sheehan suffered the consequences, but Titans coach Lou Rodriguez was full of praise after the senior-laden Green Dragons dealt his club a 2-0 setback Monday afternoon in a season-opening SCC interdivisional meeting at John J. Riccitelli Stadium.

Hamden scored its goals 56 seconds apart in the 10th and 11th minutes. The Titans generated scoring opportunities, and enjoyed an advantage in shots over the 80 minutes of play, but the rhythm of their striking force was not what it needs to be. Rodriguez acknowledged as much, yet he put great stock in Sheehan’s level of play.

“Yeah, [the inexperience showed] but we also played well and I’m not disappointed,” he said. “The boys moved the ball well. I thought we dominated the last 20 minutes of the first half and had the ball on their side of the field on their side of the field the whole time. We graduated a couple of kids who could put the ball in the net and we’re looking to do that. There’s a lot of soccer left. This is just our first game and we’ll have the opportunity to play them again.”

Jason Umbehr, who had a hand in plenty of scoring plays last year, is in a different role without the presence of scrappy, high-scoring Andrew Caplan. He had numerous touches, but only seriously tested Hamden keeper Marcus Carrington (3 saves) once. Shortly after Hamden scored its second marker, Umbehr placed his shot perfectly, but Carrington finger-tipped it over the crossbar.

“It’s not hard at all for this team [to get in synch],” Rodriguez said. “This team knows how to play soccer. We moved the ball well.”

He emphasized that finishing at the net and attaining a more fluid attack are a certainty.

“Connecting in their defensive third and just finishing, that’s what we have to continue to work on,” Rodriguez said.

Finishing wasn’t an issue for the Dragons.

Midfielder Anthony Larocque won a ball at midfield in the 10th minute. He went over the top of the defense to Manny Yeboah, who hit it hard and low to the left of keeper Nik Trivino (3 saves).

Less than a minute later, Hamden striker Dayne Rayford settled the ball 20 yards out. He slipped the combination pass to Mike Lanouette running on a diagonal for a picturesque goal at the 10:34 mark.

“We were trying to win balls in the midfield and put a lot of pressure on them so they wouldn’t turn on us, then use our speed up top,” Hamden coach Ralph Romano said. “We have midfielders with good vision. We try to get the ball to their feet and play through on the ground or play balls over the top. We try to keep possession in their end of the field.”

Sheehan had an edge in possession that turned into an 11-6 advantage in shots, but couldn’t escape posting a clean sheet.

The best chance in the second half came three minutes in when Julio Serna got his head on a well-spotted corner kick, but didn’t make a solid enough connection to beat Carrington. Umbehr had a late look from the top of the circle, but hammered the shot too high.

“We had many chances and I think we outplayed them, certainly in the first half and maybe 20 minutes of the second,” Rodriguez said.

“That’s just the way it is in the SCC.”


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