WALLINGFORD — It was all high spirits and high scoring at Choate on Tuesday night for the Sheehan boys soccer team, which had a dominant 6-1 SCC interdivisional victory over North Haven at Harteveldt Family Field.
The Titans were led by senior striker Talan Burr, who had a hat trick.
Last season, Burr was a defender. His move to offense has provided numbers that head coach Lou Rodriguez has not seen in a while.
“He’s been very important,” Rodriguez said. “I haven’t had someone scoring goals like that in the last three years. He has five goals for us this year so far, so I’m very happy with him.
“We’re playing chess and we’re moving people around, and it’s working for us,” added Rodriguez, his team now 2-3-0. “We’ll continue to do that until we find the right pieces.”
Against North Haven (1-5-1), from the start of the whistle, it was apparent that Sheehan was going to control the tempo. Burr scored his first goal by dribbling through two defenders and taking a shot from the right side of the box that slid by North Haven’s goalkeeper into the left side of the net.
“What did I see? I saw the net,” Burr reported. “I got the ball, I took the shot, and just did what needed to get done.”
His second goal came on a perfect through-ball from junior midfielder David Hernandez-Martinez. Burr outran his defender and took advantage of a mistake by the goalkeeper. He was able to tap the ball into the net to give Sheehan a 2-0 lead.
Hernandez-Martinez also had a big game, finishing with a goal and an assist.
“My goal was obviously to give it to Talan,” Hernandez-Martinez said. “I tried to curve the ball a little bit so that I could give the assist, and the goalkeeper made the mistake and we capitalized.”
North Haven tried to counterattack, but could not find the goal thanks to solid defensive play led by senior captain Oliver Brown.
“We were able to stop most of their offensive threats by positioning ourselves well and reading ahead,” Brown said. “Marking is very important in this game, so when you see a man in front of you, give him some room and get the ball before him.”
Freshman goalkeeper Nour Sofiane also had a few saves on counterattacks that kept Sheehan in front.
“I felt proud of myself,” Sofiane said of his saves. “My team defended really well, also.”
Burr added another goal before halftime on another breakaway.
When the second half started, North Haven started to have more chances on goal but, once again, could not convert. Sofiane made a crucial save in the first 30 seconds of the half to keep the score 3-0.
The NorthHaven surge did not last long, as Hernandez-Martinez scored on a perfect pass by senior Reynaldo Sanchez. Sanchez controlled and kept possession of the ball, then did a step-over feint past the defender and delivered the assist.
“Beautiful assist,” Hernandez-Martinez said. “My goal was to obviously score because it was a beautiful ball, and I didn’t want to lose that opportunity.”
Alex Morocho of North Haven was able to score a goal on a cross into the box to make it 4-1, but the Titans would continue to cash in.
Another breakaway attempt by Burr earned a corner for Sheehan. On the ensuing kick, Brown capitalized with a beautiful header that found the net to restore Sheehan’s four-goal advantage.
With only a few minutes left in the game, senior Steven Gomez scored a picturesque goal that hit the top right corner of the net.
“On my shot, I just saw the net,” Gomez said. “I just did what I do: always put the ball into the net.”
The Titans were all smiles after their victory, and that is the kind of team Rodriguez wants them to be.
“We are meshing as a group,” the head coach said. “We are coming together as a group finally, and we have a lot of new kids starting on the field.
“We started coming together against Hamden on Saturday, but today I think we were able to put all the pieces together. We have a lot of strong teams that we are facing, but I think if we take it a game at a time and fix our mistakes, we are going to be OK.”