The 2010 Norwalk High School boys soccer team will remember its season for earning the top seed in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference playoffs, attaining the state's No. 1 ranking and establishing the Bears as a state power.
Unfortunately for the Bears, all those accolades seemed hollow after Thursday's 2-1 loss to Simsbury in the second round of the Class LL tournament at Testa Field. Norwalk (15-2) scored first on Jake Zuniga's blast from about 25 yards out in the 48th minute. Simsbury, the 13th seed, answered in the 52nd minute when Matthew Poomprakobsri took a through ball and nudged it past Norwalk keeper Svet Kozak.
Simsbury got the game-winner with 11:10 left in the contest when Jacob Nash converted a long, direct kick by Blake Mercer. Mercer served the ball into the box, and Nash directed it past Kozak.
"I thought we played well,'' Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said. "We just had two defensive breakdowns. We knew they're a tough team. They are well organized defensively. I thought we had the better of the play, but sometimes the best team doesn't always win."
Neither team mustered much offense in the first half. Zuniga's goal jump-started both offenses, and Simsbury didn't wilt even though it was playing on the road against a higher seed. "After they scored I thought we were in trouble,'' said Simsbury coach Ed Lynch, whose team defeated Brien McMahon in the opening round. "We got a little burst of adrenaline after they scored and we were able to come back. Norwalk's a very good team. It just went our way tonight."
The loss devastated the Norwalk seniors. They were part of a team that won just five games as freshmen and lost in the first round of the state tournament last year after winning seven games in the regular season. Norwalk's senior class includes Ricky Joslyn, Andres Torres, Jake Zuniga, Danny Quintero, Chris Jeffrey, Fabian Carvajal, Lara Santiago, Kevin Lawrence and Spencer Jacoby.
"These guys have gotten the program going in the right direction,'' Laughton said. "I'm going to miss each and every one of them, not just as players but as people."
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