NORWALK, Conn. – After years of falling short of sky-high expectations, the Norwalk High boys soccer team is finally meeting them. The Bears held off an upstart Stamford squad, 2-1, in the Class LL state semifinals Friday evening to punch a ticket to their first state title game since 2004.
Stamford gave Norwalk one of its toughest challenges of the season, showing the crowd of nearly 1,000 just how it got this far. But the Bears finally were able to halt an underdog – a trial they had failed to pass as heavy favorites for the past three years.
“We have 13 seniors and there was no way they were going to let the season end now,” Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said. “We didn’t have [starting forward] Nacho [Navarro] tonight, who is kind of like our quarterback. But everyone else just stepped up to get this win.”
Kevin Joslyn was behind both Norwalk goals, getting to the right place at the right time on each of the scores. Joslyn lofted a soft shot with the perfect touch to give the Bears a 1-0 lead with 10:30 to play in the first half. After Stamford tied the game late in the first half, Joslyn netted the eventual game-winner on another soft-touch goal that slipped past the Black Knights goalie.
Both sides played an extremely physical style of play, leading to more than a dozen combined free kicks, a Stamford yellow card and a Black Knights player with a broken wrist.
But Norwalk was able to hold Stamford off after Joslyn’s goal for the final 21:30 without any serious offensive threats by the Black Knights.
With a share of the conference championship under his team’s belt and a ticket punched to the state title game, Joslyn said the season has been sweet redemption after several years in a row of disappointment.
“Stamford’s a really good team. Everyone says we’re the better team on paper, but we really fought for the win,” Joslyn said. “Everything that’s happened to us in the past – all the adversity – it’s all come together to defeat it this season.”
Top-ranked Norwalk will take on third-seeded Fairfield Prep in the Class LL state championship next weekend in a matchup many predicted – or at least hoped – would come to pass. Norwalk's only state title came in 1966, while Prep is playing in its first-ever state championship.
The exact date, time and location of the title game have yet to be determined.
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