Eagle boys’ soccer breaks through vs. Tide
BRISTOL — After a slow start in Tuesday’s home game, the Mount Abraham Union High School boys’ soccer team took wing and soared to a 7-2 victory over winless Spaulding.
The Eagles spotted the Tide an early goal on a wind-aided, but well-struck corner kick, but then settled into their possession game and scored four times in 20 minutes to take command and improve to 2-1.
Coach Bobby Russell said he appreciated the variety of the ways the Eagles scored and their goal-scorers, but most of all he enjoyed watching his team apply the principles he and the Eagles had been practicing — moving the ball patiently and purposefully, and moving without the ball to allow that to happen — especially after the first 10 minutes.
“We were able to generate some offense, some from the run of play, and some from set pieces,” Russell said. “Most encouragingly, though, I feel like the boys responded to what we had discussed, which was moving a little bit more off the ball, creating some ball speed, rather than just standing in spaces, because that was making the game pretty stagnant for a while.”
The opening Tide goal came from Cole Baitz in the ninth minute. His strong corner kick from the left side bent inside the right post, with help from the stiff south wind. At that point Spaulding was outshooting the Eagles, 4-1, and Eagle senior goalie Will Vichi had to make a save. At the end of the half Mount Abe held an 8-5 edge in shots at goal and a 4-1 advantage on the scoreboard.
The Eagles broke through in the 13th minute when sophomores Jake Lucarelli and Joe Graziadei combined on a two-on-one break into the box. Graziadei drew the lone defender and tapped the ball to his right to Lucarelli, who finished low to the goal’s left side from 10 yards out.
Eight minutes later junior middie Tanner Harris waltzed past three Tide defenders at the top of the box and finished from 12 yards out low into the right side.
Eight minutes after that senior striker Branden Reynolds made it 3-1. He ripped a shot home from close range on a feed from Lucarelli from the left side after Lucarelli eluded defenders.
With seven minutes left in the half, Graziadei beat several Tide backs into the box and finished low to make it 4-1 at the break.
The Eagles came out controlling play in the second, but were at first reluctant to pull the trigger. But their pressure resulted in six second-half corners (an 11-1 edge overall), and they converted three of them.
In the 53rd minute junior middie Neal Guy headed a corner from the left side into the far post, and the rebound went to Harris, who volleyed it home from close range with the outside of his foot.
Twenty minutes later Harris struck again, heading junior forward Eli Burgess’s corner kick from the left side cleanly inside the far post. In the 73rd minute Lucarelli headed in another Burgess corner to cap the Eagle scoring.
Eagle second-half junior goalie Creed Stilwell stopped two shots, including a breakaway, but could not snuff out Ryan Glassford’s final-minute breakaway. Tide goalie Kent Barcomb made six saves.
Other than the two breakdowns that allowed Tide forwards to go in alone on Stilwell, Eagle backs Carter Monks, a junior, senior Griff Paradee in the middle and seniors Lucas Jensen and Lathan Lomax on the flanks were solid.
Against top teams, though, Russell said the Eagles might have to apply better ball pressure and mark more closely, noting the 10 goals they have surrendered in three games.
“It’s tightening up all over the field. It’s not just the back line. It has to start at the top through the midfield and to the back,” he said.
Russell said it bodes well that the Eagles bounced back not only during Tuesday’s game, but also by winning at Missisquoi on Saturday after suffering a tough opening loss to Middlebury.
“We were a little hesitant (early on Tuesday). We didn’t move well. We didn’t move well as a team. And the boys knew that. We identified that, and we all agreed on what we needed to do,” he said.
“They’re a great group, a bunch of leaders from top to bottom. They worked hard, stuck together, and really executed much better against Missisquoi, and today really tried to work on the same principles that will make us more competitive.”
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