By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Sometimes, when the seeds in boys scholastic soccer aren’t too far apart in state tournament play, the talent level might be of a similar nature.
However, that philosophy was not in play during a CIAC Class L first round match between No. 14 Bristol Central and No. 19 Bethel on Monday, Nov. 11 as the Rams battered the Wildcats offensively while the home team’s defense made every big stop.
In the end, Central advanced in postseason play behind a convincing 4-0 victory from the turf field at Bristol Central high school.
The Rams (10-5-2) moved on to play No. 3 Prince Tech/University who enjoyed a bye into the second round on Wednesday, Nov. 13.
Central’s defense was on-point against Bethel, led by Andrew Oren and Keegan Curtis, along with Hayden Caudill, Carson Rivoira, Beckett Hennessey and keeper Dan Gaudoin (three saves) shutting the Wildcats out (7-6-3).
“The defense played really well, especially Andrew Oren and Keegan Curtis – our two center-backs — and they communicated really well,” said Central coach Nate Jandreau. “And though outside of a couple chances early in the game, we kind of controlled the first half with those guys and really didn’t give them much to build off of.”
And there was the Central offensive component that simply overwhelmed the visitors.
Adam Jones was all over the field, notching two goals and an assist while Diego Naranjo caused all sorts of havoc in collecting one goal and an assist.
Charlie Pittman worked hard for his goal while Rivoira added an assist to the winning effort.
Jones made an immediate incursion into the Bethel box and nearly kicked the ball passed a defender — who couldn’t knock it away — before the keeper cleared it one minute into match play.
And the pressure was on Bethel’s defense immediately to stop those fast Central feet.
A Naranjo to Jones connection five minutes later almost found pay dirt, off a great set up by Rivoira, but did not lead to a score.
The Wildcats were pesky offensively but Gaudoin did well leading his back line as crosses into the box by Bethel were not answered.
And then Jones and the offense made a run to the goal from the left side of the box and that first score came to pass.
Jones simply beat everyone in his path and kicked in a shot that cleared the right side of the net as Central led it 1-0 just 32:44 in.
“Our plan going in was to jump on them early to suck the life out of [the match] and not give them any chances,” said Jandreau.
Bethel’s Even Hornbeck then tried a 1-on-3 move in the center of the box but Central’s defense suffocated the attempt at the 31:00 mark of the first half.
And then on a free kick, Andrew Oren booted a field goal from the 25-yard line as the Rams were out-shooting the Wildcats midway through the first tilt.
Mark Palma took his first attempt at the goal with 26:00 to go but just missed wide left while Bethel was still trying to solve Central’s defensive schemes.
And then two-and-a-half minutes later, Palma set up a brilliant cross to Pitman but his attempt was just deflected out by the keeper.
David Bowes then had a bit of a breakaway and was just a mere foot away from getting by the keeper and kicking the ball in but the attempt led to a corner kick.
Oren ended up missing on a long shot but just 20 minutes into the contest, Central was out-shooting Bethel by a 2-to-1 margin.
“Jones, David [Bowes] and Diego had their chances and Mark [Palma] really controlled the middle of the field and flipped the ball every which way,” said Jandreau of the offense. “We had a ton of opportunities in the first half and got a few of them in.”
“It just set us up for the rest of the game.”
Central’s Joseph Davila almost set up Bowes for a score but Bethel keeper Nathaniel Correard (12 saves) snared the ball in with 13:30 remaining in the first.
Carson later headed ball out of the Central box, which eventually led to Rivoira-Umar Malick connection with 11:20 showing the clock that was just booted too far to the left of Bethel’s goal.
Central had several chances to kick in a second goal and Palma had an attempt blocked out of bounds, putting together a corner kick with 9:00 left.
Carson missed a header but off the rebound, Naranjo slapped in a looping shot for a score and with 8:27 left in the first half, that 2-0 tally was a big one as the first 40 was ending.
Naranjo and Bowes just missed out on goals a minute later while Pittman had a hockey assist in the works with a slick pass up to Jones but no one was there to boot in the cross.
However, Pitman jammed in his goal with 3:29 remaining in the period — slapping it by the keeper off a great advance to the sophomore as Central led 3-0.
Pittman nearly setup Xavier Browne for a goal but his attempt just went a bit too far over the top crossbar.
Bethel finally got something together, off a free kick nearly at midfield but the shot didn’t get near Gaudoin as the halftime horn eventually sounded with the Rams comfortably ahead, 3-0.
Naranjo nearly scored 39 seconds in the second 40 but the Bethel keeper slapped the attempt away for a save as Central continued its offensive onslaught.
Minutes later, Naranjo drilled another ball at the keeper with 37:00 left in the game and Correard was under attack again.
The Wildcats’ offense finally earned a corner kick minutes later but nothing came of it.
However, Jones added another goal — nearly off an assist from Naranjo – with 34:43 left to space the deficit out to four.
It was two-on-one, the one being the keeper from Bethel – as Naranjo tapped the ball to Jones, right in front of the net, but Correard made the first stop.
Off the rebound, Jones got the ball back and easily splashed it by Correard the second time and a 4-0 cushion followed for the home team.
“I thought Jones up top was just so much of a problem that they didn’t know what to do with him,” said Jandreau.
Carson just missed scoring on a header with 30:31 left but Correard bopped it out and a little later, Hennessey cleared a Bethel corner while a Naranjo-to-Jones pipeline nearly led to a fifth tally with 29:00 left in the second half.
Gaudoin later made two brilliant saves off a free kick and Bethel didn’t have much to show after 55 minutes of work.
Central continued to be aggressive, running the clock down, and with 15 minutes remaining, it was still a 4-0 match and Bethel’s offense was clearly held in check.
Pittman just missed a goal with 12:03 remaining, playing extremely well throughout the showdown, as Central had chance after chance.
And with 5:25 remaining, Gaudoin accidentally grabbed the ball out of the box, leading to a free kick off a hand ball that Bethel’s Bryan Osebio bounced off the top crossbar, starting another Central counter.
And then the Wildcats missed two more attempts, another coming off the crossbar and one that was somehow booted out of bounds and the Rams kept its clean sheet intact.
That was Bethel’s evening in a nutshell as time expired in Central’s 4-0 first round triumph.
“[Gaudoin] had a hand ball outside of the box,” said Jandreau. “It was a little mental mistake there and [so was] not staying with runner on [that post play] at the end of the game but all in all, I thought defensively, we played really well today. We’re going to need it going forward.”
NOTES…The Rams took it to Prince/University on Wednesday, Nov. 13 – posting a 4-0 win on the road from Annie Fisher Middle school Turf Field in Hartford…David Bowes led the charge with two goals while Carson Rivoira and Diego Naranjo each tallied one for the Rams…Central moved on to the quarterfinal round, taking on No. 6 Wethersfield this past Friday but fell 1-0 — finishing up at an excellent 11-6-2.
BRISTOL CENTRAL BOYS SOCCER
Class L State Tournament, first round
No. 14 BRISTOL CENTRAL 4, No. 19 BETHEL 0
from the turf field at Bristol Central high school – Monday, Nov. 11
Bethel 0 0 – 0
Bristol Central 3 1 – 4
Halftime: Bristol Central, 3-0
Bristol Central goals – First Half: Adam Jones (7:16)
Diego Naranjo (31:33), Charlie Pittman (36:31).
Bristol Central goals – Second Half: A
Saves: Danny Gaudoin (BC) 3, Nathaniel Correard (Bethel) 12.
Records: Bristol Central 10-5-2 overall; Bethel 7-6-3.