Defense key for Blue Devils vs. Redcoats

By KEN MORSE

CORRESPONDENT

The Plainville boys soccer team has been riding the strength of a stingy defense led by the fearless junior keeper Sergio Zaldivar. Look for the point of contact where the foot meets the ball and that’s where you will find the diving Zaldivar in a courageous attempt to stop the opponents attack.

It doesn’t always keep the ball out of the net nor does it have to. Playing with that kind of fearless approach has caught on to the rest of the Blue Devils defense as Plainville has bolted out to a 3-2-1 start on the season.

“These guys have been playing soccer together for awhile now and they are a real tough group of kids,” said Plainville interim coach Scott Wenzel, who was taking the place of head coach Tim Brown who is out for a few days.

“The kids battled all game long against a very tough Berlin team. It was a great high school soccer game. Both sides have a lot to be proud of and Sergio is the best goalie in the state.”

Senior defenders Mark Gniadek and Tim Soucy have teamed up with junior John Siani and freshman Brady Beausoleil to build a formidable backline that has held opponents to just eight goals over the first five games of the season.

The Blue Devils were 3-1 on the season last Tuesday and met a real test going up against 4-1 Berlin. The two teams went at one another and the real clash took place between the 30 yard line markers.

The battle for possession at midfield was fast and furious with Plainville seniors Matt Bialko, Jordan Bishop and Patryk Wnorowski leading the way. That opened up the passing lanes long enough for forwards senior Jacob Hillburn and junior Tyler Miller to set up opportunities deep in Redcoat territory.

Twice Plainville had possession inside the box on restarts but couldn’t finish as the Berlin defense proved to be just as stubborn. Zaldivar made a couple of saves on the doorstep and was fortunate on the few occasions that Berlin shot wide of the net.

The Blue Devils made a final push as time was expiring in the first half. Dane Stephens used his superior footwork and a determined effort to find Michael Torres breaking over the middle.

Torres was met by the Berlin defense but remained on his feet after the initial contact. The shot inside the box was batted down just wide of the post as the teams went into the half scoreless.

The Redcoats came out in the second half and turned up the pressure. Zaldivar stepped up and managed to redirect several shots inside the box. But it was on a restart on a corner kick that allowed Berlin to take the lead.

Noah Silverman directed the corner kick high above the pile up out in front. John Downes got the jump on his man and headed it past the dive of Zaldivar for a 1-0 Berlin lead with 25 minutes remaining in the second half.

“The other kid for Berlin was just as tough,” said Zaldivar. “It was a very tough physical game. The defense out in front of me did a great job.”

“The way the ball was coming down I wasn’t expecting a shot. I thought it would be a battle for possession but he went up and got a header on it and it got by me. I’m so happy that Dane (Stephens) was able to get one in for us.”

The thought of a let down never occurred to the Blue Devils as they came right down the other end of the field with a full head of steam. Hillburn bounced off a couple of defenders but kept on going charging into the box before the defense finally caught up to him knocking the possession away.

Three more times Plainville made extended runs into Redcoat territory all to no avail. Bialko appeared to have an angle on a defender as he turned the corner just before the post but a sliding tackle knocked the ball away.

Then with 16 minutes left to play Stephens lined up for a restart from 35 yards out with his teammates getting into position to receive the ball. Stephens nailed it as the ball sailed high into the top corner of the net just out of the reach of the leaping Berlin keeper to tie the game at 1-1.

The Blue Devils erupted and chased Stephens all the way to midfield to give him a well deserved back pounding. That raised the expectations a few notches heading down the stretch but both goalies were outstanding coming up with one huge stop after another.

“I saw an opening on the left side,” said Stephens. “So I lined it up and tried to kick it as far as I could. I was so happy when I saw it go in and all my teammates running towards me.”

Overtime consisted of two frantic five minutes periods with both goalies out doing one another. The final minute of the second overtime period saw both teams line up a couple of attempts but to no avail as the contest ended in a tie.

The Blue Devils closed out as tough week at Hall on Wednesday and at Glastonbury on Friday. Plainville will be back at home on Tuesday when they host Wethersfield on Oct. 10 at 3:45 p.m.

Comments? Email mchaiken@bristolobserver.com.

down never occurred to the Blue Devils as they came right down the other end of the field with a full head of steam. Hillburn bounced off a couple of defenders but kept on going charging into the box before the defense finally caught up to him knocking the possession away.

Three more times Plainville made extended runs into Redcoat territory all to no avail. Bialko appeared to have an angle on a defender as he turned the corner just before the post but a sliding tackle knocked the ball away.

Then with 16 minutes left to play Stephens lined up for a restart from 35 yards out with his teammates getting into position to receive the ball. Stephens nailed it as the ball sailed high into the top corner of the net just out of the reach of the leaping Berlin keeper to tie the game at 1-1.

The Blue Devils erupted and chased Stephens all the way to midfield to give him a well deserved back pounding. That raised the expectations a few notches heading down the stretch but both goalies were outstanding coming up with one huge stop after another.

“I saw an opening on the left side,” said Stephens. “So I lined it up and tried to kick it as far as I could. I was so happy when I saw it go in and all my teammates running towards me.”

Overtime consisted of two frantic five minutes periods with both goalies out doing one another. The final minute of the second overtime period saw both teams line up a couple of attempts but to no avail as the contest ended in a tie.

The Blue Devils closed out as tough week at Hall on Wednesday and at Glastonbury on Friday. Plainville will be back at home on Tuesday when they host Wethersfield on Oct. 10 at 3:45 p.m.

Comments? Email mchaiken@bristolobserver.com.

Plainville junior attacker Dane Stephens, right, is locked up in a battle for possession with Berlin’s Curtis Aracari in last Tuesday’s home game. (PHOTO by MIKE CHAIKEN)

Plainvillejunior defender John Siani, right, battles along the sidelines with Berlin’s Curtis Aracari last Tuesday in Plainville. (PHOTO by KEN MORSE)