Mt. Abe boys’ soccer pulls away from Commodores

VERGENNES — The Mount Abraham Union High School boys’ soccer team broke through with a big second half on Monday to pull away from host Vergennes, 4-0.
After a scoreless first half in which the Eagles had more possession, but the Commodores countered dangerously to create as many chances as their visiting rivals, Mount Abraham asserted itself in the VUHS end.
Senior striker Weston Allred, with a hat trick, and senior midfielder William Wright, with a goal and two assists, proved to be the major thorns in the Commodores’ side.
Nine minutes into the second half those two teamed up on a goal that broke the ice for the Eagles. Wright burst down the middle of the field with the ball, drew the defense as he neared the VUHS box, and tapped the ball diagonally with the outside of his right foot to Allred, open on the line directly out from goal. Allred took one touch into the box and also used the outside of his right foot to send the ball high into the upper right corner.
The first half had ended with the Eagles outshooting VUHS, 6-5, but also with the Commodores forcing Eagle goalie Ethan Dewitt to make three saves to VUHS goalie Cameron Mclaughlin’s two.
But both teams’ coaches agreed Allred’s strike created Eagle momentum.
“Once we got that opening goal they had to open up play a little more, and that gave us a little more space attacking,” said Eagle Coach Bob Russell, whose team improved to 2-2-1 with its second straight win. “The guys have been working really hard on playing as a unit and finding those spaces to attack.”
VUHS Coach Kevin Hayes saw his team, which he said is fighting nagging injuries, drop to 1-4 after the Eagles’ surge.
“They moved the ball well in the second half. They were definitely more patient after the first goal, and we had to change our strategy and open up more. And they took advantage of that,” Hayes said.  
Hayes hopes a return to health will give the Commodores a lift.
“We’re working with seven or eight guys who aren’t 100 percent,” he said. “Hopefully the heart was going to take them through the game, but we just ran out of gas.”
Certainly the Commodores played hard in the first half. The defense of Jack Halpin and Jeff Stearns in the middle and Nate Wojciehowski and Robbie Bicknell on the flanks limited the looks on Mclaughlin, who knocked two long-range shots by Eagle middie Eric McKean wide in the half.
At the other end senior midfielder Ezekiel Palmer, junior forward Josias Salomao and sophomore midfielder Avery Husk created chances. On an early VUHS corner kick the Eagle defense broke up Palmer in close; in the 16th minute a loose ball bounced to Husk 15 yards out, but his hard shot went right to DeWitt; in the 21st minute DeWitt came out to beat Palmer to a through ball; and in the 30th minute Tucker Stearns shot high on a feed from Salomao. 
“We definitely had opportunities in the first, one or two really good chances,” Hayes said.
EAGLE SENIOR KAI Dobek and Commodore sophomore Avery Husk chase down a loose ball during Monday’s game in Vergennes. The Eagles won the game, 4-0. Below, Mt. Abe senior William Wright gets around Vergennes Union High School senior Nathan Wojciehowski.
Photos by Mark Bouvier
In the second half the Eagle midfield edge grew more pronounced, with Wright, McKean and Owen Maille in the middle in particular showing well. 
Russell said after a halftime talk his midfielders started playing more calmly and less directly after the break, but at the same time recognized when to attack. In the second half the Eagles outshot the Commodores, 18-5, with consistent work from Eagle center back Kai Dobek helping keep VUHS in check.
“We just discussed ways we could open them up rather than keep on hammering back into the same defensive pressure,” Russell said. “To their credit the boys did that and opened up their defense and moved them around a bit so we could get scoring opportunities.”
After the first goal VUHS had the next chance, but DeWitt (six saves) stopped Salomao from the left side. Then Mount Age started to tilt the field. Mclaughlin knocked a Maille drive wide, and Silas Burgess just missed wide right after a feed from Wright.
Finally the dam burst. With 17 minutes to go and the VUHS defense scrambling the ball popped to Wright at the top of the box, and he found the lower left corner with a low shot. With seven minutes left Allred won the ball from the final two VUHS defenders and unleashed a 30-yard rocket into the upper right corner. Allred completed the hat trick two minutes later by one-timing a 10-yard shot inside the right post on a Wright cross from the right side.
Russell said the Eagles’ back-to-back wins — including the one over their friendly rival on Monday — should give them a lift with a tough Middlebury team due in Bristol on Saturday.
“It was nice getting the win last time out and then coming here. It’s great, a wonderful atmosphere. Most of the guys know each other. They clearly care for each other. But each team desperately wants to go home with the W,” he said. “So to put up that score line, it’s definitely going to make them feel better.”
The Commodores scored six against an overmatched Fair Haven side for their only win, and Hayes said if they start finding their scoring touch against better opponents it will boost their confidence.
“(We’ve shown) some good stuff, there’s also some that’s not gone in our favor. I thought we could win some games early on,” Hayes said.  “We’re not finishing those half-chances. If we do that I think it will lift us.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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