Woodstock finds the net and beats OV soccer, 1-0

BRANDON — The Otter Valley Union High School boys’ soccer team did a lot of things right in the Otters’ homecoming game on Saturday, but not enough to knock off visiting Woodstock, which did one thing OV did not — find the net in a 1-0 victory.
The OV backline of seniors Nate Claessens in the middle and Tim Kittler on the right and freshman Kieran Williams on the left limited the Wasps’ chances, and senior goalie Clay Hays positioned himself well to make eight saves, came off his line to pick off clears, and punched away a couple of dangerous serves. 
The midfielders, notably seniors Ethan Sulik-Doty and Patrick McKeighan and junior Sawyer Pierpont, looked for each other and worked to possess and move the ball purposefully into the attack, where senior Reilly Shannon posed a constant threat for the Wasp defense. 
“I think we’re doing the right things, and this was a good game for us,” said OV Coach Dick Williams. “This was a level match. The score even shows it.”
But the 4-2-1 Wasps also dealt OV its second straight shutout loss, and the 2-5-1 Otters have scored just once in their other three setbacks. Williams acknowledged his offense has yet to fire on all cylinders.   
“We’re struggling to get the final touches. They definitely developed some better chances. We’re getting to the final third as good as any team. We have to create a little better chances, a little better opportunities,” Williams said. “We’re working on it, but it’s a work in progress.”
Saturday’s first half was scoreless, with Woodstock outshooting OV by 5-4 and both Hays and Wasp goalie Stephen Bianchi making two saves. But Hays also had to beat Will Crompton to a through ball in the ninth minute and punch out an Emilio Montano serve in the 15th minute.
For OV Shannon just missed the upper right corner with a 35-yard bomb in the 16th minute, and Pierpont had a good look at goal on a feed from sophomore Cole Letourneau, but Bianchi (three saves in all) handled it cleanly in the 34th minute.
The Wasps outshot OV by 10-6 in the second half and scored a pretty goal in the fourth minute. Tim Bisaillon sent a long, high ball from the left flank to Montano, who controlled in the far side of the box and chipped a 12-yard shot over the charging Hays. 
OV pressed between the half’s 10th and 15th minutes. Sulik-Doty’s long bid from the left side sailed past the far post, and a defender also blocked his hard shot from just outside the box. McKeighan had a chance on a feed from Shannon, but his bid rolled to Bianchi. 
The Wasps then reasserted themselves, and Claessens and Hays in particular made plays to preserve the one-goal deficit. 
In the final minute the Wasps defended a McKeighan direct kick, and one last Sulik-Doty shot from distance went high. 
Still, Williams was not discouraged. Many players from the 2017 team that posted the program’s first winning season in years graduated, and he said this year’s group has a positive outlook and is putting in just as much effort, both during games and practices.    
“We’re working on things and we’re trying to do a tactical game plan and everything like that,” Williams said. “So I’m pleased. That’s what a coach wants to see guys do.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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