WALLINGFORD — The Sheehan Titans boys soccer team opened its season up Tuesday with a 3-1 Southern Connecticut Conference loss to the West Haven Blue Devils at Riccitelli Field.
Rafel Gazcon led the Blue Devils with two goals, both of which were scored in the second half to protect a 1-0 lead West Haven had established in the first half. Kieran Liu scored for Sheehan.
The Blue Devils came out strong and instantly took control of the ball and time of possession. West Haven attempted 20 total shots in the first half to only a couple for the Titans. Sheehan goalkeeper Chase St. Amant had nine saves in the first half and 15 total on the day.
In the 18th minute of the game, West Haven took a 1-0 lead. After a nice steal on defense, Issa Mubarak advanced the ball upfield and sent a pass to Brian Rivadera that give him a one-on-one situation with a Sheehan defender. Rivadera shot a missile in for the goal.
“They were beating us in the middle of the field,” noted Sheehan coach Lou Rodriguez. “They were playing a diamond in the middle of the field with three guys coming at us, and they were controlling the tempo and moving the ball well, and it took us a little bit of time to adjust. In the second half, we adjusted, and I thought we had a much better second half.”
The Titans started playing a more balanced game in the second half. They had more time on offense, started picking up Blue Devils midfield, attempted a few shots early on and put themselves in scoring position.
The Blue Devils, though, got some help from the Titans early on in the second half. A Sheehan penalty in the box gave West Haven a penalty kick and Gazcon converted to put the visitors up 2-0 within the first five minutes of play in the second half.
Sheehan cut the deficit in half 10 minutes later when Liu got in position for an inbound pass from Connor Duffey and headed the ball into the net.
All too quickly, Sheehan lost all the momentum it had gained. Gazcon collected his second goal of the half just a minute after Sheehan scored to put West Haven back up by two goals, 3-1.
“That brought us down,” Rodriguez said. “Once we scored the goal to make it 2-1, our body language spoke for (itself)and we were back in it, and once they scored again, it takes another 10-15 minutes to get back into the game, and by that time it was too late.”
Too late, indeed. The Blue Devils made the 3-1 lead stand up and improved to 1-0-1. The Titans will look to land their first win when they host Hamden on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
“If the team continues to play the way they’re playing, we should be in every game,” Rodriguez remarked. “This team understands how to play the game and they understand what we need to do to win.”