Eagle boys claim one-goal win over Tiger boys’ soccer
MIDDLEBURY — Friday’s game between the Mount Abraham and Middlebury union high school boys’ soccer teams began and ended with Eagle goals, and the second came from senior Dylan Weaver in double overtime and gave the visiting Eagles a 2-1 victory and a 4-1 record.
In between, the 0-4-1 Tigers had more shots on goal and, as Eagle Coach Mike Corey told Tiger Coach Reeves Livesay afterward, probably the better chances in the tightly contested game.
“It was pretty even,” Corey said. “As I said to Reeves, their chances were quality.”
Livesay, although disappointed to see a positive result slip away in overtime, was happy the Tigers showed offensive promise.
“I think we did the best job we’ve done all season of generating offensive opportunities, of getting forward,” Livesay said.
The Eagles carried the opening minutes, and scored 70 seconds into the match. Forward Nick Catlin sent midfielder Charlie Meyer into the left side of the box, and Meyer finished with the outside of his right foot inside the right post past Tiger goalie Wilder Perera (four saves). Ten minutes in, an offsides call wiped out an apparent goal by Eagle forward Caleb Bonvouloir on a feed from middie Lucas Richter.
Tiger defenders Lewis Short, Nick Wilkerson, Nick Holmes, Eli Miller, Cole Gregory and Harlow Punderson then began to assert themselves. The Eagles outshot the Tigers overall, 19-15, and earned a 6-2 edge in corner kicks, but they landed only seven shots on goal.
“It was a little tough to see that it took us 10 or 15 minutes to sort things out defensively,” Livesay said, “but once we did that we settled into the game, moved the ball well.”
Middies Duncan McCabe, Drew Barnicle and Owen Hammel were responsible for much of the ball movement that drew praise from Corey.
“They were very purposeful,” Corey said. “They moved the ball better against us than really anybody we’ve played.”
The Eagle defense of Owein Labarr in the middle and Tucker Paradee and Andrew Cloutier on the flanks held up under the pressure that increased as the first half wore on. Eagle goalie Nick Szczecinski (eight saves) stopped bids from Jon Fitzcharles and Juan-Pablo Ribeiro, and Eli Rickner cleared a ball off the goal line.
Catlin consistently threatened at the other end, and Perera stopped him once and dove to control the rebound, and Miller broke up a late Catlin rush.
The Tigers broke through 33 seconds into the second half. Middie Henry Hodde found space on the left flank, and the Eagles lost track of Ribeiro. Hodde found Ribeiro, who had time to lace a left-footed shot home from close range.
The Tigers outshot the Eagles, 8-7, in the half, and forced Szczecinski to make three saves, including on Barnicle and J.D. Goettelmann. Szczecinski also came out to break up plays.
At the other end, Wilkerson cleared a ball off the Tiger goal line, and Meyer worked free for a couple looks but missed the target, as did Bonvouloir on a late corner kick.
In the first overtime, Szczecinski stopped a Barnicle bid set up by Ribeiro, and then on a Barnicle direct kick was perfectly positioned to snare a Wilkerson header.
The Eagles came on strong in the second OT, and Perera stopped Richter and Meyer. But he couldn’t handle a Paradee corner kick cleanly, and during the goalmouth scramble that followed Weaver bodied in the game-winner at 4:15.
“We were fortunate,” Corey said. “Either team could have won this game.”
Corey, whose team is without senior Jackie Gorton, who has elected not to play this fall, wants his team to show more consistent focus on possession and ball movement.
“We need to learn to deal with pressure and maintain that mindful, calm poised attitude. Forget the score. This is how we play and keep rolling,” he said.
Livesay’s team has faced a gauntlet of a schedule that will now ease somewhat, and he expects the Tigers to build on efforts like Friday’s.
“I think we’re very excited to be at that point of the year where hopefully we should be able to be very competitive in all of the games,” Livesay said.
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