Hugh-Jones, Greenwich overcome Darien in key FCIAC boys soccer game

DARIEN — Greenwich soccer captain Jake Hughes-Jones had the ball and some room to move. The only issue was he was about 35 yards from the goal.

“Something” he said, “told me to shoot.”

Hugh-Jones unleashed a left-footed shot that sailed high into the top left corner of the net to begin a run of three unanswered goals as the Cardinals handed Darien its first loss of the season 3-1 Tuesday in Darien.

Hugh-Jones scored goals in the 49th and 52nd minutes, and Santiago Borrego added the final tally off a great cross from Isaac Dumeny in the 64th minute.

The victory could be key in the FCIAC playoff race, as both teams are in the hunt for one of the top four spots and a home game in the quarterfinals. Greenwich improved to 5-1-2, and the Blue Wave dropped to 6-1-1.

Greenwich was able to overcome an early goal by Darien’s Trevor Pegg, who scored in the third minute before the teams had settled in. Trailing, the Cardinals were able to keep the pressure on before breaking through in the second half.

“I thought even though we did go down, we definitely were the better team in the first half and the better team throughout the game,” Hugh-Jones said. “We just felt really on top of everything. We were getting the ball down, playing where we wanted and controlling the game. We’re all super-happy with today’s performance.”

Darien was at a disadvantage shortly after Greenwich’s second goal, as Chase Caruso picked up his second yellow card, which was converted to a red card, forcing him out of the game. The Wave played a man down for the final 27-plus minutes while trying to come back.

“The poor part of the game was the first 10 minutes of the second half,” Darien coach Jon Bradley said. “We were a step behind and that punished us. Then the red card came in and that was pretty much the end of it. Once you go down to 10 players, there’s so much space for them to play into.”

Pegg’s goal in the first half was the Wave’s first shot of the game. Pegg made a nice turn into the offensive third, raced to the top of the box, and sent the ball past Greenwich goalie Julian Colin to the far post.

Led by Dumeny and Hugh-Jones, the Cards were relentless on offense, but the Blue Wave’s first-half goalie Will LeHan held the shutout.

Greenwich finally knotted it on Hughes-Jones’ long goal with 31:55 to play, as the ball sailed over second-half goalie Thomas Branca.

“I was surprised he even hit it from there but when he did, I don’t know if their other goalie would’ve been able to save that,” Greenwich coach Kurt Putnam said. “That knuckled as well and (it went) right into the top corner. I don’t know if he’ll hit another one like that for a while.”

“I just picked up, it was a nice pass to me and I had a lot of space,” Hugh-Jones said. “Something just told me to shoot, so I had to go. I was fortunate it ended up in the back of the net. It felt good to get one and tie it back up, and for us to then go ahead of them.”

Hugh-Jones then scored on a header with 28:00 to play. The ball was played out by a Darien defender, but officials ruled that the ball had crossed the line, putting the Cards in front 2-1.

Greenwich’s final goal was from Borrego with 16:08 remaining.

Despite the loss, Bradley is happy with his team’s positioning, especially after playing a difficult schedule thus far.

“We’re 6-1-1 right now and I don’t know where we’re going to finish up, but we have played a brutal first part of the season,” Bradley said. “We’ve played Norwalk, we’ve played Staples — we’ve played most of the teams in the top four. Our destiny to be in the top four and host a (FCIAC quarterfinal) game is still in our hands.”

“I like where the team’s at and the sky’s the limit,” Hugh-Jones said of Greenwich. “(Darien was) an undefeated team and we’ve had a couple games where the results didn’t go the way we wanted, and a couple of others where we didn't play the way we wanted. So it’s nice to get the result and play well and see the team playing well.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Jake Hughes-Jones, Greenwich: The senior captain scored the Cardinals’ first two goals, equalizing on a 30-yard kick and putting them ahead for good during a corner kick four minutes later.

QUOTABLE

“You can see the way we play and what we’re capable of doing when we play our game. If the back five can shore it up, the front five are going to do damage. We’ve got speed and skill. Our ball-movement was fantastic today. That’s probably the best we’ve played for the longest.” — Greenwich coach Kurt Putnam

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports

GREENWICH 3, DARIEN 1

GREENWICH 0 3 — 3

DARIEN 1 0 — 1

Scoring: D — Trevor Pegg, 3rd minute; G — Jake Hugh-Jones, 49th minute; G — Hugh-Jones (Gordy Cartwright), 52nd minute; G — Santiago Borrego (Issac Dumeny), 64th minute.

Records: Greenwich 5-1-2; Darien 6-1-1.