GREENWICH, Conn. – It was the tale of two halves for the Greenwich High School boys' soccer team, pulling out a 3-1 victory against Stamford after teetering on the brink of disaster in a crucial conference showdown Wednesday.
With the two teams tied for third place in the conference standings entering the match, Stamford outplayed Greenwich in just about every facet of the game for the first half.
Stamford managed six shots on goal in the first 40 minutes against a flat-footed Greenwich squad. Foreshadowing the second half, however, the Black Knights only could convert one of those shots, despite having four wide-open chances at the net.
Greenwich head coach Kurt Putnam tore into his team at halftime, incensed at the Cardinals’ lack of passion during the first half of a game that had a huge bearing on the conference playoff standings.
“To be quite honest, they humiliated us in the first half,” Putnam said. “It looked like I had players who don’t care and I told them that at halftime. But they responded in a way you hope that teams do.”
The speech, as well as changing almost the entire Greenwich lineup, seemed to shake the team out of its doldrums.
Eleven minutes into the period, Greenwich's Mateo Gowland intercepted an attempted clear by Stamford and fed the ball to a wide-open Paul Qioroga. The sophomore quickly blasted the equalizer into the net from 20 yards out.
Just 50 seconds later, Greenwich was awarded a direct kick from 30 yards from the Stamford goal. With the setting sun making defense nearly impossible for Stamford, Will Gittings easily drilled the eventual game-winning shot into the back-right corner of the net.
Gowland added an insurance goal off a nifty cross pass from Joao Galbier with 21:30 to play.
“This is a big game because it not only gives us three more points, but it gives us the head-to-head if there are any tiebreakers. This win could be what gives us a home game in the tournament,” Putnam said. “We know all these games count.”
Greenwich (9-2-2, 29 points) is now tied with New Canaan for the third seed in the conference playoff standings. The Cardinals take on another playoff contender at 6 p.m.Thursday when they host Danbury.
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