By MICHAEL LETENDRE
HARTFORD – The Hartford Public boys soccer team made the squad from Bristol Eastern sweat a little on Tuesday, Oct. 15 in a Central Connecticut Conference Interdivisional tilt from Hartford.
The Owls proved to be a huge challenge for the Lancers but the visitors from Bristol knew what was at stake.
And building off a 1-0 halftime edge, Eastern scored three goals over the first 11 minutes of the second half, eventually wrangling up a 5-0 victory that kept the Lancers’ ledger nearly perfect.
Public (1-8-1) hardly played like a one-win squad but once the second 40 started, trying to contain Eastern star and All-New England candidate Jake Woznick for a second consecutive period was a no-go proposition.
Woznicki scored two goals and assisted on the other tally by Dylan Piazza as the Lancers’ small lead became a huge 4-0 cushion with 29 minutes to play.
“We knew what we had to do at halftime,” said Woznicki. “We talked about it and we knew we had to pressure [Hartford Public] to get them on their heels.”
And history was made in Hartford that afternoon by both Woznicki and Eastern head coach Bill Sweet.
Woznicki kicked in four goals, totaling 25 for the year, and establishing a new program record for markers scored in a season at BE – surpassing the 23 notched by Chris Ghiglia.
And, at the end of the contest, the victory was Sweet’s 400th win of his career as the coach of the Lancers’ program.
Not lost in the effort was Eastern remaining undefeated, moving to 8-0-2 after 10 matches this year as the squad continues to flirt just outside of the state’s top-10 polls.
It was all business first and foremost as Eastern shutout the Owls for only the second time this season.
That’s a credit to the Eastern defense, which included outstanding efforts by Andrew Lozier, Luke Hammer – who also assisted on a Woznicki goal – Drew Dauphinee, Dante Costantiello, and Tom Vontell – among others.
“I’m impressed with our shutout,” said Sweet. “Only one other team [this year] shut Hartford Public out. I mean, they don’t have a great record…but everyone else [besides Conard] has been scored on including Wethersfield.”
“You can see how they can get goals…”
Eastern dominated the ball early in the game and it took Public nearly eight minutes to finally operate on the Lancers’ side of the field.
But that Public defense was everywhere and when Woznicki and company were making their first half runs, stops were made and balls kicked away by the Owls.
“Their feet were really, really quick,” said Sweet of Hartford Public. “They’re excellent athletes.”
Slowly, Public’s Ruben Aguilar, Darrian Creary, Elmin Hasanovic, and Alexis Guillen started operating in Eastern territory but that wall of defenders only allowed three first half attempts at the Lancers’ net.
Eastern keeper Nate DiLoreto (six saves) made every stop possible which included glove saves, nabbing balls off Public corner kick crosses and took on straight shots – blocking out everything.
“We worked hard,” said Sweet. “We got a break. One [Public] shot went over the goal, one kick went flying. We made some great saves. I can’t complain.”
With just about 18 minutes left in the first period, Hammer got the ball to Drew Dauphinee who put a great pass down to Woznicki but Public’s keeper Yentrouc Baker (nine saves) made the stop and played extremely well over the match.
But about 30 seconds later, Woznick scored the first of his four goals.
He simply charged in from the right side of the field, avoided and sped past two defenders and when he jammed the ball by Baker, it was a 1-0 game in Eastern’s favor.
Hammer made late attacks, Woznicki was constantly surrounded by several bodies, but Owls’ crosses went unanswered until the first half horn sounded with Public hanging around, trailing just 1-0.
But 11 minutes into the second half, Woznicki and company slammed the door shut on the match.
Though Public remained poised and dangerous and had “the fastest feet we’ve seen,” according to Sweet, the Eastern offense sprang to life.
Five minutes into the second period, Woznicki kicked a sweet ball to the left post of the Owls’ goal and there was Dylan Piazza to jam home the scraps as Eastern led 2-0.
And two-and-a-half minutes later, Hammer found Woznicki coming into the box and off his kick in and score with 32:50 remaining, the Public deficit grew to 3-0.
With 29 minutes to play, Woznicki again attacked – heading in a ball that fell into the back of the net and off the hat-trick, a 4-0 cushion followed.
Eastern continued to snare those invaluable 50-50 balls and Public just kept missing the goal as the shooting attempts evened out in the match.
But all that back and forth play didn’t net the home team anything offensively as time was running out.
And off one more push with four minutes remaining, Woznicki powered his way by the Owls’ defense and slammed in one more goal off one heck of an effort to give his squad a 5-0 lead as that tally proved to be the final score of the game – putting the finishing touches on a historic day for Woznicki, Sweet, and the entire Bristol Eastern boys soccer program.
“They’re a good team,” said Woznicki of Hartford Public. “We knew they were fast so we had to keep up with them. I think once we got ourselves rolling, they really couldn’t stop us.”
NOTES…On Friday, Oct. 18, the Lancers remained undefeated with a 2-0 win at Berlin from Sage Park…Tyler Borry and Brandon Greger – on an assist by Woznicki – scored the goals for the visitors…DiLoreto once again pitched a shutout in the goal, his seventh of the campaign. The keeper has allowed just four goals this season as Eastern moved to 9-0-2 over the winning effort.