Boys soccer: Lions control tempo in draw with Bulldogs

Junior striker Brendan May kept looking for that opportunity to put his speed and foot skills to good use when his Foran High boys soccer team took on visiting Bunnell High last Saturday afternoon.

How well he was defended made a huge difference, as the Lions battled over 80 minutes, took 12 shots and watched as Bunnell's goalkeeper Owen Jaekle, kept his team in the game over the first 30 minutes.

Neither team was able to score, but it didn't diminish the enthusiasm of either May or his head coach, Rick DiStefano.

"In those first thirty minutes we played as good a possession game as I've ever seen any team do here," said DiStefano, the school's coach for the past dozen years. "We played well wide, we played fast and we created chances. The only thing we didn't do was score."

The Lions forced Jaekle into making five, first-half saves. One, on a shot by Ben Cogan forced Jaekle to make a sprawling save, going hard to his right to block the shot.

Several headers by Foran players, one in particular by May was also turned aside.

DiStefano is counting on May in the future as the Lions took to improve on a 2017 season, one in which they finished with a 2-9-5 record.

"Brendan will be the fastest player on the field in almost every game that we play," DiStefano said. “He gives us a dynamic element. Once the ball gets on his foot, he's dangerous. He'll have defenders going back on their heels."

Foran's defense and the play of sophomore goalie Luca Marinelli limited Bunnell to just three shots with Marinelli making two, first-half saves.

"Their goalie may have played well," said May. "But I thought Luca had a good game as well. He's worked very hard in the off-season and has earned the starting position."

May is excited about this season, where Foran will play a strong mix of seniors and sophomores and some juniors like himself.

"We have a good group of hard-working intelligent players," he said. "A lot of people are always focusing on the result. We still earned a point out of this game. And that matters. For our team, we'd like to still be playing in November. Making our playoffs (Southern Connecticut Conference) and states are important for us."

DiStefano knew how important it was for the Bunnell team with its new head coach, Joe Baccielo, to weather the storm through those first 30 minutes.

"It's massive when your keeper can keep you in the game," DiStefano said. "It fires everybody up, It gives your defense that much more confidence. For us, this was the usual effort. We always get it from our kids. I may not be pleased with the results, but I'm over the moon with the performance."

The Lions are at East Haven today and move on to play at Guilford at 3:45 on Friday. Amity visits Monday at 7.