The day was perfect for soccer: cool and cloudy. However, the coaches knew that Saturday’s game was up in the air. Two of our defensive anchors, Kyle Young and Nick Wilder, were sidelined with injuries and we were not sure if our rookies could fill their huge shoes. When Dublin School arrived we had our traditional chat with their coaches and learned that their team was made up of “varsity ones, varsity twos, jv ones, and jv twos.” So we’d face quite a mix that afternoon.
The early minutes of the game were back and forth in the middle, then Dublin took the initiative and got in close. Cody Nguyen, who was playing further back than his usual position, flew in and shut down a dangerous one-on-one attack. Minutes later Dublin sent in what Coach Custer described as a “weird, bad luck goal.” The ball was deflected up high and just barely got over the fingertips of a back-peddling Max van Dijk to earn the only point that would get by Max.
KUA, although in a bit of shock, fought back hard. Ethan Rozycki worked hard to keep pace with a fast front line to drive them outside and Ollie Cozzi was scrappy and relentless in his pursuit of the ball. Each time Dublin came in close enough for a shot, Max was there to grab it or deftly flip it over the top bar. The Tran brothers again proved a force on the outsides: Kien kept Dublin wide and Kevin thwarted any attempt to get in close.
While we were advancing into their end, we were yet to get a shot off. Keenan Thygesen was having to play a more defensive role, but he was forcing their offense to make undesirable passes and sticking in close. Finally, with thirty minutes gone, Jack Lavallee was able to get a shot off from the left side, but the goal keeper was there to stop it. In the last ten minutes it we saw Max save two corners, a long shot and a grass-burner. Then in the last two seconds of the half, Trong Phan used his left foot for a shot up close, but the keeper was there to save it. At the half it was 0-1.
In the second half we saw Josh Wang take over the goal tending and he was as busy as Max. In the first minute he saved an indirect from going in, along with a long blast from outside the box. Cody and Ben Weise were crucial in the backfield, coming in as if out of nowhere to stop each drive before they got in too close. Tho Duc Le and Johan Do played with smart determination, forcing the shot or pass. Cam Barton, in his quiet way, was proving a very strong defender and helping to fill the missing shoes of his older teammates. Fintan Trimble, too, was working hard on the side and sent several passes up to an attacking Tryder Kulbacki who lead many drives up the field and in close to the Dublin net.
Twenty minutes in and we were still down by one. Dublin drove in, shot, and Josh made a diving one handed deflection, but the ball surprisingly failed to go out of play. Dublin’s left striker recovered the ball and just happened to sneak it in. It was the second fluky goal, but it put KUA down by two. It was at that point that the stellar effort of the team began to flag.
Even though David Chuong and Liam McKewan hustled the ball up through the middle to Jon Li and Will Hayes, we couldn’t get any shots to go in. Then the wheels fell off. Dublin School brought the ball inside our box, took a hard shot, and earned their first solid point of the game. That put us down by three. Three minutes later they earned a corner kick and took advantage. They placed the ball over Josh’s head and deflected the ball in for a picture perfect corner-kick goal. What followed was painful to watch. Our efforts were beginning to wobble and we saw first Ben Weise and the Cody Nguyen taken out because of injuries. Our entire veteran defensive line was gone. However……on the brighter side, those stalwart freshmen who stepped in and took over in the backfield kept Dublin from scoring again and proved that the 3rds have a solid future.
This Wednesday the boys will face off against Proctor Academy at home at 2:30.