Black Knights Best Vikings in Eight-Goal Thriller


Mark Gjuraj, Sports Editor

If the Black Knight Nation lacked any conviction that this season’s boys soccer team is legitimate, the events that transpired Monday have surely extinguished those doubts.

On Monday afternoon, Stamford High continued their stellar performance in their 2017 season with a phenomenal 5-3 victory away at Westhill. Coming off of a last-minute win against Norwalk, the team sought to rebound with a more convincing and emphatic performance. This did not manifest versus the Vikings; however, a boisterous Black Knight crowd was treated to an unforgettable spectacle.

The game was scoreless after 40 minutes, with the two teams sizing each other up in a methodical and cautious manner. In the second half, though, the floodgates opened; Westhill struck twice in just under seven minutes. In the blink of an eye, the Knights seemed to be flattened.

In spite of this deficit, the Knights displayed a relentless spirit that we have seen time and time again this season. A powerful free kick by senior Bogdan Chervak forced a save from the Westhill goalkeeper, and junior Josh Labkoff pounced on the rebound, sparking the Knight’s comeback. This was followed by a handball by a Westhill defender, which led to an Oleh Senyk (senior) penalty that was slotted into the bottom-left corner of the net.

However, the Knights’ progress was halted by a third Westhill goal. An unmarked Westhill player headed the ball in the goal off of a corner kick, once again highlighting the Knights’ recurring struggles with set pieces.

On the ensuing kick-off, Senyk launched a through-ball over the Westhill defense, leading to a string of play that saw senior Philip Pec set up a goal for senior Orlando Coronado, just seconds after conceding. Moments later, Chervak broke the deadlock, giving the Knights a lead that they would preserve for the rest of the match. Crucial saves by goalkeeper Alex Grabar (senior) and composed defending by senior Carlos Lopez and junior Giancarlo Pardo in the final stretch of the game allowed the Knights to comfortably absorb the pressure by the Vikings, and hit them with a handful of counter attacks. One of these resulted in a goal, which saw senior Ali Essallamy beat the keeper on a 1-v-1, cementing the victory in the final minute of the match.

With this win, the Knights’ record improved to 10-3, the most victories they’ve had in a single season since 2013. Coach Mario Caminiti and the boys will hope to carry this momentum into their last few games of the regular season, as well as into the state and Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC) playoffs.