NEW GLOUCESTER—Patriot Julius Rapp broke a lengthy stalemate with the Lakers late in the first half on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 16, kicking off a battery of G-NG goals by a battery of G-NG players. Despite some solid Lake Region defense, the Patriots rolled past their visitors to a satisfying, 4-0 win.
Four different Patriots scored a goal apiece in the triumph, an impressive offensive spread. “It was good to see,” said G-NG head coach Andy Higgins. “Some guys got some of their first points, so it’s going to build some confidence, but it’s good to see a lot of guys getting in on the net. And we had chances where our other guys could’ve put it in.”
It took the Patriots a good chunk of time – the majority of the first half – to figure out the Lakers’ defense. Though G-NG controlled the attack for much of that stretch, they couldn’t generate the quantity or quality of shots they needed to really light up the scoreboard, and Lake Region keeper CJ Ferguson deftly repelled the shots they did manage.
For their part, though, the Lakers also had trouble – more trouble, really – churning up much in the way of offense. Their first quality look never came until around the 30th minute, and even that shot, a roller along the ground from outside, proved an easy enough stop to make for G-NG netminder Brannon Gilbert.
“We’re real fortunate,” Higgins said; “we bring back an experienced defensive group on that back four, with [Sam Farrington] and [Jake Kackmeister] and [Cam Usher]. They played the lion’s share of what we did last year, so they got a lot of great experience. Brannon in the net has been a great fill-in for John Henry; he sat behind [John Henry] last year and really learned from him, and he’s in there holding his own this year.”
John Henry Villanueva, the Patriots’ standout keeper in recent years, graduated in June.
With 5:22 to play before the break, Rapp snapped the teams’ deadlock, blasting the 1-0 point past Ferguson from the high-right.
Higgins described his expectations for the contest: “I expected [Lake Region] to come in and compete and work hard. Coach [Mike Chaine] does a great job with them, getting them to battle. You look at their scores, they’ve scored in every game, and they’ve given up fewer goals than we had, coming into this one. So they essentially had the same record.”
“I really felt the first goal was going to be worth two,” Higgins said. “Because if we could get one, it may get them back on their heels a little bit and open the game up. So our emphasis was on trying to get that first one early. It didn’t come as early as I would’ve liked it, but we did get it. Julius made a nice run, beat those guys and tucked it in.”
After Rapp got the (proverbial) ball rolling, G-NG’s attack turned far more productive: The Patriots added their second of the afternoon – a Matt Gurney strike – barely more than three minutes later, for example. They also tallied two in the downhill half: Nick Pelletier scored in the sixth minute, slinking through the middle and toeing the ball high past Ferguson, and Austin LaLiberty scored with approximately nine minutes remaining, wending around multiple defenders and snipering the top-right corner of Ferguson’s net to do so.
“We didn’t connect well in the first half,” Higgins said. “I think it was a tale of two halves. In the first half, we did enough to get a 2-0 lead. I thought there was some things we left out there. We made some adjustments at halftime – we switched our formation, changed some other small pieces of the puzzle and really had an emphasis on coming out hard in the second half. I think, once we got that third one, about five minutes in, it really took the wind out of their sails and opened things up for us.”
Higgins elaborated. “We did a great job of winning the ball in that first half, and then when we won it, we got numbers forward,” he said, “but the numbers were all just running direct, rather than trying to check into space and open up space for someone else to go behind. Because of that, we were getting caught offside – just by playing through balls, playing a straight ball to a straight run instead of looking to play something diagonal through, or move their defenders with our movement and create space for someone else.
“So we had to regroup and talk about that, about ‘Hey, let’s make it a little bit simpler for ourselves.’ We went back to more of a shape we’re more comfortable with, and it opened the game up for us a little bit.”
G-NG moved to 2-2 with the win. The Patriots have dropped matchups with Yarmouth and Greely, while picking up a victory over Wells. They faced off at Fryeburg on Tuesday the 19th, winning 3-1, and will host York on Saturday the 23rd.
Lake Region slipped to 1-4. The Lakers emerged triumphant vs. Poland, but fell to Wells, Freeport and St. Dom; they hosted York on Tuesday, succumbing 10-0, and will travel to Greely on Friday and Fryeburg on Saturday.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.
Lakers defender Casey Berger gets air in pursuit of a ball; G-NG’s Jacob MacCallum barrels toward the same target.
Laker Giovani Lopez and Patriot Austin LaLiberty go shoulder-to-shoulder.
G-NG’s Tristan Fogg heads a ball vs. the visiting Lakers on Saturday.
Laker Thomas Kolofsky and Patriot Noah Bruns race toward a runaway ball.
Peter Vigna of Lake Region jets away from G-NG’s Jeremiah Gendreau.
Patrtiot Nick Pelletier and Laker Tristan Chaine battle.
G-NG’s Nick McCann does what he can to fend off LRHS’s Nate Bragdon-Clements.