Lions play game within game
Foran High boys soccer coach Rick DiStefano stood by the side of the pitch at the Vito DeVito Sports Complex and deftly dissected the game after the Lions had played Hamden High to a 0-0 draw in a Southern Connecticut Conference intra-divisional contest on Oct. 3.
How much excitement can be drawn out of a scoreless draw in soccer? Plenty if you’re DiStefano who looks at the game as a constant positional battle.
Throughout the 80 minutes of play, DiStefano and Hamden coach Joaquin Rodriquez were trying to extrapolate from each other’s strategies and then come up with counters.
Hamden managed to clog up the middle well in the first 40 minutes.
DiStefano followed by moving his entire team up the field by at good 10 yards, trying to utilize the Lions’ ability to use the width of the field to create more scoring opportunities.
Each team was good enough in the back field to limit scoring chances, which led to a tie that neither coaches felt badly about.
The deadlock left Foran at 1-4-2 and Hamden with a 3-3-2 record.
“It only takes one or two very good chances to win a game like this,” said DiStefano, who lost just three key players off of last year’s squad.
“I had a chance to watch them the other day against Notre Dame-West Haven [a game the Green Dragons lost, 3-0)],” DiStefano said. “It gave me a chance to see what their strengths and weaknesses were.
“We could’ve gambled a little bit more tonight, but I wasn’t about to take anything away from our deep backs. The draw here could help us in terms of making the state tournament.”
Foran’s best scoring effort came midway through the first half when sophomore Adrian Burton’s drive from off the left wing went just wide of Hamden keeper Matt Wilson.
“If we converted there and played our usual defensive game, we probably could have won,” DiStefano said.
Instead, the game went back and forth with each side displaying a high amount of intensity.
Hamden had three shots and four corner kicks in the first half and used its overall team speed behind the play of Hector Zepeda, Kenny Okofar and Tristan Mahan to pressure Foran goalie Adnan Redzepagic, a field player last year who was moved into the net.
“He [Redzepagic] isn’t making any mistakes,” DiStefano said.
Overall, Foran had eight shots compared to six for Hamden. Wilson made five saves while Redzepagic stopped two, both of them in the second half.
Hamden had two good scoring tries late in the game, including a play in the box.
After starting the season off with three wins, the Green Dragons had failed to get a victory in their last five contests.
Foran’s lone win came over Lyman Hall. The Lions were beaten by West Haven, Career-Hillhouse and Hand and Guilford from within the SCC’s Hammonasset Division.
DiStefano employs a 4-4-2 formation and relies on his deep back quartet of juniors Justin Kassouf, Tyler Kasuba and Julian Yuliawan, along with freshman Leandro Jorge, to create plays upfield.
In the middle, DiStefano plays seniors Nick LaPenna and Rodrigo Sapriza, along with junior Paul Mirmina and sophomore Adrian Burton.
He teams junior Alex Eager with freshman Cedrick Lingane up front.
“We have a nice mix of older and younger players,” DiStefano said. “We possess the ball well and get it into the spaces even if they’re tight.
“Tonight we simply couldn’t get it through the middle well enough.
“They [Hamden] did a great job of clogging it up there.”