MERIDEN — The city’s first 2019 soccer doubleheader turned out to be a Maloney sweep.
The Spartan boys stalled five-match losing streak with a thrilling 2-1 win over Platt in the opener at Falcon Field. The Spartan girls carried the momentum over into the nightcap with a 8-0 victory.
In the boys game, Maloney held a 2-0 lead at the half on goals off the feet of Zechariah Smith and Josue Arraez.
Maloney held on after a furious Platt charge in the second half in which Platt out-shot Maloney 6-2 in the final 40 minutes. Maloney senior captain and defender Sanford Bruce was forced to make a save on a header behind Maloney keeper Devin Juan (6 saves) in the 72nd minute to preserve the win.
Smith’s tally came with just 1:11 elapsed from the clock in the opening half.
“I just had an open shot and I took it,” Smith said.
It was the first shot of the game from either side. The striker got the ball with some space from close distance and smashed it into the back of the net for an instant 1-0 lead.
The score set an early tone for Maloney and put the Panthers in an early hole.
“It was unfortunate they got that early goal; I think that really hurt us,” Platt coach Tim Redican said. “This loss I’m going to put a lot on myself. There’s a lot I thought that I could have done a lot better. That first goal hurt and then we played a great second half.”
The Spartans padded their total in the 33rd minute thanks to an impressive individual effort by Arraez. The senior lured out Platt keeper Josiah McLeish out of the goal. The keeper made a diving effort, but the ball squirted out of his grasp. Arraez then dribbled around a Platt defender and booted it in the unoccupied goal.
The Spartans (3-5, 2-1 CCC South-Colonial) had two other major threats at the Platt net in the first half. Freshman Tom Sullivan’s shot hit the post in the 15th minute and Dannys Blandon forced McLeish (4 saves) to make leaping save in the 29th minute.
The Panthers had two good looks at Devin Juan in the first half, but the junior keeper was up to the task. Both came on free kicks. Kymarley Jones unloaded on a set piece from 25 yards and straight on to the goal in the 25th minute. The ball seemed ticketed to the twine, but Juan jumped up and pushed it over the bar.
Later in the half, Elian Nava forced Juan to a full-dive save on the effort from 27 yards and straight on.
In the second half, Nava broke away from the Maloney defense and blasted one in on target on Juan in the 55th minute. The Maloney junior stoned it.
Jones blasted a shot just over the crossbar for the Panthers in the 58th minute. Platt continued to get the best of the play in the second half until Nava put one in in the back of the net. The blast hit the left crossbar and caromed passed the line into the goal with 12:30 showing on the clock.
It was Nava’s fourth goal of the year.
Maloney’s first shot of the half was a Smith free kick from 35 yards in the 70th minute. The shot was handled cleanly by McLeish.
Nava had a shot for the equalizer in the 71st minute. His free kick sailed just over the bar.
Just a minute later, Platt had another look at the goal as Melvin Hernandez chipped a ball by Juan, but Bruce, who also goes by Ivan, was waiting there at the endline and cleared it away to preserve Maloney’s one-goal lead.
“Everyone was just out of position and the ball was just bouncing around the box and they got a head on it,” Bruce said. “Coach always tells us to back up my keeper.”
Maloney coach Dave Parness said Bruce has been a reliable player for him for years.
“He just plays every position for us,” Parness said. “He’s intelligent. He’s the type of guys we always mention to ‘be more like Ivan.’ He’s not the fastest guy on the field. He’s not the biggest and he’s not the strongest, but he always puts himself in position to make the right play. He knows if Devin goes out, he has to go in behind him.”
Platt falls to 1-7 overall and 0-3 in the CCC South Colonial. The Panthers are currently on a six-game losing streak.
“We had them on the ropes, we really did,” Redican said. “An inch here or an inch there, we could have scored a goal or two. It’s going to hurt for a while. We were right there and we should have easily turned the tables.”
Parness said it was a game the Spartans needed, although he wasn’t happy with his team’s performance in the second half.
“We found a way to win it,” Parness said. “The first half we were pretty good, but we got to play a second half. They out-played us for sure.
“We just have to finish plays. We had opportunities in the first half to get a two- a three-goal lead. We let them take advantage of it. We lucked out. They did enough to tie it, if not win that game. We have too many guys going one-on-one and that’s not what we do. That’s not what we practice.”
In the girls contest, Maloney improved to 4-3-1 and 2-1 in the CCC South-Colonial with the 8-0 conquest over Platt (0-7, 0-3). The Spartans featured a quartet of goals, all by underclassmen, in the first half.
Freshman Macy Figlewski scored off a corner kick in the 21st minute to get the scoring started. Fellow freshman Sophie Boulier scored in the 27th minute to make it 2-0. She scored after gathering a loose ball and booting it within the left post.
Mackenzie McCormack made it 3-0 as the rain started pouring on Falcon Field in the 37th minute. In the closing minute of the first half, Maloney sophomore Michaela Wrinn got by Platt goalie Charlotte Vega with 30 seconds left as the Spartans went up 4-0. Freshman Madelyn Plumberg scored for Maloney in the 41st minute to put the Spartans on top 5-0. McCormack was credited with the assist. Senior Liv Aitken scored on a PK for Maloney in the 55th minute as the Spartans went up 6-0.
“We have never beat Platt like this. It was definitely a big accomplishment. We have a winning streak going and we want to keep it going,” Aitken said. “We work hard every day at practice and we have great chemistry.”
Aleyna Boluk scored Maloney’s seventh goal of the contest in the 59th minute. Haley Nawrocki chipped in with the assist. McCormack netted her second goal of the game in the 66th minute as Maloney went up 8-0 and the rain continued to pour down.
“We had a lot of hard work all offseason and we are over .500 and we want to make the state tournament,” Maloney coach Eoin McClure said. “These kids have worked super hard and it’s really paid off. We have some strong juniors and seniors. But tonight we had five freshman score, two sophomores and a senior.”
The Panthers are in a rebuilding year with no JV or freshman teams, but Platt coach Danny Gutierrez said he likes the effort his team is giving.
“We are playing more aggressive,” Gutierrez said. “I’ve seeing a lot of good things. Our freshmen have stepped up and I’m excited to see what next season turns out to be.”
The games were the annual Platt-Maloney Pink Games. The booster clubs for both teams organized a Pink Game Bake Sale, with all proceeds and donations benefiting the Hartford Heathcare Cancer Institute at MidState Medical Center. The squads will meet again on Nov. 4.