GRAY—The Patriots picked up a 1-0, senior-night victory vs. visiting Poland on Saturday, Oct. 13: Andrew LaCerda powered home the game’s lone tally late in the first half, after which G-NG held on for the W.
“We needed that goal,” G-NG head coach Andy Higgins said. “We needed at least one before the half, and that was a full team goal, because it started with pressure through our midfield to pick a pass off and then attack a wide space. And then we got a great service in, and Drew’s got a great knack in front of the goal of putting it away when he’s in the right spots, and he reads lanes well. He just stepped into one and got a great strike.”
The first-half action bounced up and down the field a bit, though G-NG clearly held an edge, keeping the Knights mostly pinned in their half of the field and pressuring consistently. Whatever pushing back the Knights managed to do against the Patriots’ offense, they failed to convert on – in fact, they couldn’t even generate any quality opportunities.
G-NG, on the other hand, logged several good chances as the uphill stretch unfolded. Patriot Jake Kackmeister, for instance, turned in two great shots in the 24th minute, the first a header that hit the Poland crossbar and the second a redirect that sailed just high. Both came on corners.
“They’re organized defensively, and they defend really well,” Higgins said of Poland. “They made it really difficult and took away a lot of the things we were trying to do. The first half, we had numerous chances – we were in their end most of the half.”
Finally, in the 27th minute – at 12:45, to be exact – Patriot Hunter Brown belted a ball from the Knights’ left corner centerward. LaCerda reeled in the ball maybe 20 yards out from the goal, settled it, turned and kicked: The shot found its way past Poland keeper Davin Cloutier for 1-0.
“We’ve been trying to work attacking wider,” Higgins said. “Instead of going central, opening it up and going wide and good things happening. The last few goals we’ve scored have come from wide play. It’s nice to see them attack that space and get rewarded for their efforts.”
The last 52 minutes saw no goals scored. G-NG might’ve wanted them – the Knights certainly did – but neither side could notch them.
“We tuck one more of those in and the game opens up a little bit,” Higgins said. “Where it’s 1-0, they can stay in that tight shape and still look to counter and score; if we get two or we get to three, that changes it. It opens up, now our gaps get a little bit bigger, and were unlucky, we couldn’t tuck one in. Goals are hard to come by.”
“We’re glad we got the one we got,” Higgins said. “Our composure in front of the net could’ve been a little better. Maybe we get a couple more, go into the half with a better lead. But that’s the way it played out. We did well to hold on; conditions were rough – it was sloppy turf.”
No doubt conditions were far below ideal; heavy rain earlier in the day had left the field slick. Players clearly found it difficult to maintain their footing at times – at times, they looked like they might as well have been competing on an ice rink.
“We accomplished two goals today,” Higgins said. “One was, we wanted to get some valuable Heal Points, and two was to send 10 great seniors out with a win in their last game on this field. We’re not going to get enough Heals to get up a homefield game (for playoffs), so this is it for them on this field. We took it upon ourselves to dig a little deeper, to get a win for them to send them out of here with a W and a good last memory here.”
Higgins took a moment to applaud a few of his boys: “Nick McCann, he’s taken things to another level. He’s playing like a senior that doesn’t want it to end. Kack’s been solid all the way through…(Jake) MacCallum – really, you could go through the whole roster. Everyone played well. Even the guys that didn’t get in. Their energy on the sidelines, keeping guy going, was great. This was a full team effort.”
The win bumped G-NG to 6-5-2 on the autumn; the Patriots slipped to 6-6-2 on Monday, the 15th, however, when they fell 1-0 at No. 3 Greely (8-4-2). Still, the team sits 11th in the standings – just inside the bracketing – where they are secure, as all regular-season games have now been played. It appears their prelims bout will be on the road at sixth-ranked Mountain Valley (7-6-1). The two teams have not yet met this year.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
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— Adam Birt (@CurrentSportsME) October 14, 2018
Logan True (22) tracks the play up the sideline.
Lawson Dunford clashes with a Poland opponent.
Alec Brooks unwinds into a kick.
Kyle Martell vies with a Knight.
G-NG’s Jake MacCallum heads a ball toward the Poland net.
Andrew LaCerda sends a ball centerward. LaCerda scored the game’s only goal, securing a G-NG victory.
G-NG’s Keegan Brooks cuts forward, into the corner, on the attack.
G-NG’s Nick McCann wars in the midfield.
Jake Kackmeister heads a ball for the Patriots.
Tristan Fogg battles a Knights opponent.
Kyle Mercier–tangled up with a Poland opponent–tumbles to the slippery grass.
Mike Sutherland cruises upfield for the Patriots.