It may not have gotten many breaks, but the Joel Barlow High boys varsity soccer team took advantage of one in particular in its game against New Milford last week.
The Falcons were held to just one goal when they visited their opponent on Thursday, Oct. 5. With their defense holding up, it was all they needed in a 1-0 shutout.
The victory was Barlow’s sixth in its last seven games and qualified the team for the state Class M tournament.
“We’re definitely kind of on a roll,” said head coach Paul Winstanley, whose team has now won four in a row. “We said we wanted to go on a long winning streak.”
Barlow’s best opportunity came relatively early in the action. With 26:18 left in the first half Jordan Horowitz went deep on an angle in New Milford territory before getting near the top of the box for a shot into the upper part of the net, which turned out to be all the Falcons needed.
“It was the best shot he had ever taken in his life,” said Winstanley. “It was brilliant. It was entirely well constructed.”
The Green Wave nearly responded. With 13:18 left it was thwarted when Falcons goalie Addison Vanderburg deflected a shot over the crossbar to preserve the lead.
“This was a 50/50 game and the only difference is we hit a bomb shot,” said Winstanley. “That’s what it really came down to.”
Barlow nearly added to its lead early in the second half, only to have a shot by Grayson Vanderburg, bounce off the crossbar. The match then turned intense, with each team getting several yellow cards for rough play.
“This is what happens, and it happened to them too, when you’re playing hard but out of control,” said Winstanley. “I don’t think that there was anything specific that they were super physical or we were super physical.”
Although Barlow protected its lead the Green Wave refused to fold, coming close on shots in the last 20 minutes by Tristan Blore and Marcos Peirera that missed the mark.
After an 0-2 start the Falcons now appear to be on the right track. While Winstanley feels his team is not yet at the level it should be he is pleased with the progress it has made over the last several games.
“We’re not really playing well but we’re playing hard,” he noted. “So far that hard, physical running type of style kept us in every game and we’ve been able to steal all the points. We can be a real danger if we can just get everybody on the same page and a little more composed.”
Barlow is now 7-3 after notching a 2-1 win over Masuk on Tuesday, and have climbed into the top five in the state’s M class point rankings. The Falcons play Bethel today at 4 p.m., host Naugatuck on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. and visit Bunnell on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m.