By Ryan Spitz
HAMDEN, Oct. 11 -- Green Farms Academy came dressed in all white road uniforms on a perfect autumn day at Hamden Hall Country Day's Beckerman Athletic Center. However, a more appropriate attire might have been all black, as the team attended a funeral for Hamden Hall’s hopes and dreams of a victory from the opening minutes.
When the last shovel of dirt had been emptied, the defending state champion Dragons left with a 5-2 win.
“Green Farms (6-3-1) is one of the more experienced teams in the league,” Hamden Hall coach Douglas Cunningham said. “We competed well today and fought back, but overall the score was 5-2 and it wasn’t enough.”
The Hornets (1-5) were outmanned and undersized compared to the well skilled and organized Dragons. This showed as early as the five minutes into the game as the Dragons' sophomore midfielder Charlie Benson came up with the ball off a deflected corner kick and lofted a pass over the middle of the box to sophomore striker Kyle Merzon, who stuck the ball into the back right corner of the net for the game’s first goal.
Continuing their dominant play, the Dragons came right back two minutes later and scored off a penalty kick from senior striker Ian Lee.
Lee, an experienced player and a part of the Dragons’ 2016 Connecticut Prep Class S Championship team, took advantage of poor positioning and inexperience from the Hornets’ freshman centerback Johar Varma to draw the penalty shot.
Varma’s and the team’s overall inexperience played a major role in the team’s poor first half performance.
“We are so inexperienced that we go into games tentative in the first half, and always look to counterpunch and against good teams we can’t do that,” Cunningham said.
Despite a possession battle in the midfield that consumed the rest of the first half, the Dragons tacked on one more goal on before halftime when a lofted pass in the open field beat Varma and landed perfectly on the toes of the Dragons’ senior striker Nick Attai, who knocked it past Hornets’ senior goalkeeper Trevor Baer.
With a dominant first half, the Dragons did not seem to take the pressure off as they added another goal three minutes in from Merzon again. Merzon received a through pass, from Benson, that found its way past the Hornets’ defensive line right onto Merzon’s foot, allowing him to tap it past Baer for a goal.
The exciting offensive performance early on was a good sign for the Dragons , who were looking for a break-out performance on that end of the pitch.
“We’ve been trying to get to this point, because the seniors we lost last year we basically our whole offense,” Green Farms Academy head coach Chris Mira said. “We’ve kept a solid defense and midfield and now the offense is finally there.”
However, with minimal time remaining, the pace of the game changed and the Hornets began to take over offensively.
The Hornets’ senior striker Donte Berberna scored two late goals and another off of a rebound allowed by Dragons senior goalie Henry Holzinger.
However, the Dragons tacked on a late goal making the final score 5-2 and complete the blowout.
“Our defense did not let Hamden Hall get into a rhythm and we controlled the midfield,” Mira said. “This allowed our offense to create chances, and I honestly thought we could have scored even more goals today.”
The Hornets look to rebound in their next game against Chase Collegiate on Friday, while the Dragons hope to continue their momentum Friday against The Masters School.
Students in Quinnipiac University's JRN361: Sports Reporting course cover local high school sports competitions. Their work is showcased here.
Banner photo courtesy
Dana Jensen/The Day (2003)