Eagle boys’ soccer moves to 4-0 with win over Milton
BRISTOL — On Monday in Bristol, the Mount Abraham Union High School boys’ soccer team continued to look like a Division II title contender while dismissing visiting Milton, 6-1.
The Eagles moved to 4-0 and have outscored their foes by 20-4.
Still, as senior co-captain and central midfielder Cale Thygesen said after the game, it took the Eagles a while to get going against a Yellowjacket team with a misleading 0-4-1 record against tough foes.
After Mount Abe took the early lead on a goal by senior striker Ethan White, Milton’s hustle and skill up front began to disrupt the Eagles’ short passing game and create pressure on the Mount Abe defense.
That effort paid off with the tying goal in the 18th minute, and Mount Abe didn’t regain the lead until late in the half before scoring four times after the break.
Thygesen said Milton gave the Eagles a wake-up call.
“We’ve been playing a little easier competition so far, and Milton was a good team. We talked at halftime and said we needed to step it up and press them hard, play our game and pass it around, keep it on the ground,” Thygesen said. “And I think that’s what we did, and it worked for us.”
Coach Mike Corey said he was happy with the way his Eagles responded.
“This was a very important game for us, because other than one scrimmage (vs. Colchester) we hadn’t had anybody put a lot of pressure on us and was really well-organized. And in the first half we didn’t deal well with it,” Corey said. “They figured it out, and they started moving the ball more quickly, and our shape was better in the second half.”
It looked easy for Mount Abe early on. Junior back Theo Weaver sent senior striker Rider MacRellish into the box with a long through ball. MacRellish touched the ball over to White, who tapped it past charging Milton goalie Nate Dooley at 38:37.
But Milton began to press Eagle defenders, junior Gus Catlin in the middle and juniors Whit Lower and Weaver on the flanks. After Milton forward Ryan Brown stole a clearance and fired wide, the pressure paid off at 22:47. Philip Hepburn took a free kick from the right side, and Nate Cary broke free and slid into the ball to poke it past onrushing Eagle goalie Ira Fisher (six saves).
Soon afterward, Milton earned a corner kick, and Catlin headed a soft shot away from the goal line.
But the Eagles reasserted themselves, with Thygesen, junior Aiden White-Pifer, sophomore Jackie Gorton and senior Logan Tow making impacts at midfield, as did senior Sawyer Kamman, White and MacRellish up front.
“I think we all got kind of angry and sorted ourselves out,” Thygesen said.
The control paid off at 2:01, when Thygesen served from the right side to the penalty stripe, and a cutting Kamman one-timed the ball back into the right corner.
In the second half, the Eagles took charge. At 33:15, Thygesen — who quarterbacked the attack most of the day — ran down the left side and set up MacRellish out front to make it 3-1. Less than a minute later, Kamman assisted White on a similar play.
At 26:54, Weaver — moved to midfield, with Tow taking over at left back — shot from the top of the box, and the ball deflected in off a defender. At 10:51, Josh Circe, now in goal, blocked a short MacRellish bid, but senior Lukas Calzini knocked the rebound home. In all, the Eagles outshot Milton, 27-16, and the two Milton goalies made 10 saves.
Thygesen said the Eagles are finishing their chances, while their possession game has allowed them to dictate play.
Work remains for the Eagles to reach their goals, Thygesen said, but he is confident the Eagles will do what is necessary.
“In our preseason game against Colchester, we put together the ideal kind of half,” he said. “If we can put together two of those, we can compete with definitely any team out here.”
Corey said his defenders will have to at times make better decisions with the ball. But he said some of the anxious defensive moments seen on Monday are a product of the team’s three-defender system, an approach that also has its benefits.
“I’m happy with our backs … If it’s a 50-50 through ball, we can stay with most guys running through,” Corey said. “But the system we play does put one at risk for that. It’s just the nature of the beast. But it also gives a lot more oomph at the offensive end.”
Overall, he, like Thygesen, believes in the Eagles.
“If we continue to get better organized, and we continue to manage defensively and make good decisions,” Corey said, “I think this team can win a state championship.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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