New England Soccer Today

PDL: Connecticut Settles for Scoreless Draw to Western Mass

Photo credit: Ryan Dolan

Photo credit: Ryan Dolan

In a wide open contest that featured its share of contentious moments, the breakthrough proved elusive for the Western Mass Pioneers and AC Connecticut, who settled for a 0-0 draw at Westview Athletic Complex in Danbury, Ct. on Saturday.

Western Mass goalie Nick Zucco turned away nine shots while his counterpart Steve Sasso stopped five. Saturday’s contest came only eight days after Sasso and his teammates claimed a 1-0 win over the Zucco’s squad.

With the draw, both teams remain tied for third in the Northeast division, four points behind second-place GPS Portland Phoenix, and light years (nine points) behind division leaders Seacoast United Phantoms.

Connecticut opted for a 4-5-1 formation with the outside midfielders taking an aggressive stance to the fore whilst Western Mass stuck with the familiar 4-4-2 which led to one thing: Connecticut possession. The first 15 minutes were controlled by Connecticut, with a handful of crosses and the exact number of Western Mass clearances.

By the 25th minute, more space had begun to open for the boys in blue as lapses in the in the opposition’s defense began to be exploited. Many searching balls made it through the Pioneers’ midfield, only to be undone by the Zucco and his defenders.

At the half hour mark, the Pioneers started using the Blues’ formula: a through ball from the back to an outside midfielder, and a cross into the box hoping for a friendly touch. The first half would conclude with Connecticut assuming the attacking assuming the role of the aggressor, but ultimately failing to convert on transitions and long balls alike.

Gameplay continued in the same manner as before with the hosts hogging possession, and the guests having little success wresting it away. However, any chance that was achieved by Connecticut was halted by the Pioneers’ back line. An hour into the game, the occasional counterattack from Western Mass would dry up as it approached the 18.

By the time minute 70 rolled around, Western Mass had used three of their allotted six subs, and had two yellows on the docket. As the endgame approached both teams dug in. Shorter passes and more frequent sideline clearances closed up the once open field that had been enjoyed by both midfielders and fans alike.

The bitterness between the rivals western New England rivals surfaced in stoppage time as no fewer than three yellows were doled out.

And as the fulltime whistle blew, Western Mass would have enough cards for a poker hand, but more importantly, a point on the road. Despite being outshot 23-11 (10-2 in the 2nd half) the Pioneer defense did not yield to Connecticut’s pressure.

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