MERIDEN — The boys soccer battle of Oregon Road went to Platt in a 3-1 home victory against Wilcox Tech on a rainy Saturday morning.
The game was a back-and-forth thriller, with the Panthers pulling away in the second half.
“It was a really good team win,” said Platt coach Martin Cheney. “We moved the ball really nicely. We missed some opportunities in front of goal that we should have had, but defensively we were organized today and that led to our victory.”
The win put Platt at 3-5 heading into Monday’s CCC interdivisional match at home against Wethersfield. Wilcox Tech, which had a Monday home date with CTC rival Kaynor Tech, fell to 1-6.
Despite the final score, Wilcox Tech went neck-and-neck with Platt and put a lot of pressure on the Panther defense. WT coach Derick Madrid was pleased with his team’s performance.
“The boys played hard today,” Madrid said. “I thought everyone did well. We played our butts off, and it showed in the first half. Obviously it’s a rivalry game, so we expected their best and they were going to get our best.”
Platt got the scoring started following a cross that was deflected by Wildcats goalkeeper Jovanni Miranda. Panthers senior Antanael Lopez Diaz got the deflection and put the ball into the center top of the net.
“We are really a crossing team, so we are looking to spread the ball to the corners and get the ball to the middle and try and create some chaos and, hopefully, knock one in off a set piece or just a cross, and we executed that today,” Cheney said. “I was really happy with how we executed the game plan.”
In turn, Wildcats forward Will Vega showed the Panthers his best on a perfectly crossed ball that he placed into the top left side of the net to even the score.
After he scored, Vega lifted his arms in the air and screamed to the heavens, which fired up the Wilcox fans who braved the weather to watch the game.
“Scoring here in Meriden against a rival team feels good — especially feels good to do it in front of the people who came to see us,” said Vega. “So it was just an on-the-spot thing.”
The score was level at halftime, and both teams were looking for an early goal to gain the advantage.
“I told the boys in the first half that whoever dictates the first 10 minutes of the second half is going to end up winning the game,” Madrid said. “[Platt] got a good free kick and got another goal in the first 10 minutes, so they stole the win.”
Platt’s goal came off an accidental handball that earned them a free kick just outside of the penalty box. In what would go down as the goal of the match, Edwin Vazquez blasted a kick that had unpredictable movement and got past Miranda into the top corner to give Platt the 2-1 advantage.
Vazquez admitted he was nervous to take the kick.
“I was a little scared,” Vazquez said with a smile. “But I took the shot and made it. It was a knuckleball that went in.”
Platt added its final goal on a cross that Jeremy Martinez tapped into the bottom left corner.
Vazquez said that the Panthers won because of their camaraderie.
“I think we have a big team that we can talk and joke with,” Vazquez said. “We’re family and we do what we do. Soccer is the best thing.”
Wilcox Tech, which came into the game off its first victory of the season, a 2-1 decision over Wolcott Tech on Thursday, is starting to come together, according to Madrid.
Madrid also praised Miranda for his performance in net.
“Jovanni has been making great improvements,” he said. “He had two fantastic saves against [Wolcott Tech]. Today, he had some fantastic saves. The game was close, but it could have gotten ugly. Thanks to Jovanni, we were able to stay in the game.”
Cheney mentioned that his Panthers played well defensively. He wants his team to maintain that in the future.
“We have the firepower in the front, but it’s going to be organization in the back that ultimately leads to more success down the road,” Cheney said.