Through the first half of their bout in Buxton Saturday morning, Westbrook built a big lead – a three-goal lead, huge in soccer – on the nimble footwork of Gradi Lapika and Varney Kai. But the real story lies in how the game then turned tight, with Bonny Eagle’s Ryan Moody leading a two-goal resurgence. Unfortunately for comeback fans everywhere, the Scots’ determination couldn’t catch them up in the end, and the Blazes walked away victorious. 4-2 the final.
The road win moves Westbrook to 6-3-2 on the year and to No. 7 in A West. The program has improved vastly in just a few years’ time, first under the direction of head coach John C. L. Morgan, who resigned for personal reasons at the end of last season, and nowadays on the watch of new leader Greg Cavanaugh.
Bonny Eagle, meanwhile, slips to 3-5-2. The Scots currently occupy 10th place.
“We came out guns blazing in the first half,” said Westbrook girls head coach Andy Lefebvre, who filled in for Cavanaugh. “It’s been a hard week for the boys; this was their third game in the week – not a lot of rest.”
Westbrook looked to run away with the game in its first 25 minutes: Lapika notched two early on, and Kai the Blazes’ third with 14 still to play before the break.
“Our [first two] goals came off through-balls,” Lefebvre said. “We were able to counter and get through and use our speed up top to score. The third was just a nice shot by Varney from about 25 yards out.”
But maybe the Blazes then got too comfortable, or maybe Bonny Eagle got fed up, or both, because with just 71 seconds until the half, the Scots snatched the momentum away with one of their own.
Lingering, ready to spring, 20 yards out from the Westbrook net, Moody grabbed a loose ball. He pushed forward, found the open shot and took it, beating Blazes keeper DJ Henriksen to cut the Scots’ deficit by a third and juice their confidence for the interlude.
When the teams retook the turf for the game’s latter 40 minutes, their interaction looked far more balanced, and it wasn’t long – less than six minutes, to be specific – before Bonny Eagle closed the gap between them still further. In a gorgeous display of dexterity and resolve, Moody danced around one defender, then another, all while powering toward the net. In seconds he’d earned another one-on-one with Henriksen, and beaten him once more. 3-2.
Bonny Eagle continued to look sharp on both offense and defense, applying heavier attack pressure and thwarting Westbrook’s every advance. But the Blazes weren’t content to let a huge lead slip away entirely; the thought of falling in the end, after executing so well in the early going, obviously didn’t sit well with them, and especially not with Lapika, because round about the 32-minute mark, Westbrook pushed deep into Scots territory and Lapika, maneuvering low in the right corner, ripped a shot that narrowly squeezed past the right Bonny Eagle post for 4-2 – and the win.
“We came out a little flat in the second half,” Lefebvre said. “But they held it together, and were dinged up, and were dealing with me, and I’m not even their real coach. They dealt with a lot of adversity, and were able to get through it, and get a win.”
Westbrook faces a tough challenge in their next opponent, reigning state champs Scarborough. The Blazes will host the Storm on Thursday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m. Bonny Eagle welcomes Cheverus on Thursday. That game gets under way at 6 as well.
“I think the momentum’s great,” Lefebvre said. “They needed that win. They’ve got six wins now. Hopefully that’s the momentum they need to take them into the playoffs and get them a win. Being able to win games like this – muddy, rainy, wet games – that’s what you need to be able to persevere through to win.”
Ryan Moody rips the Scots’ first goal past Westbrook keeper DJ Henriksen.Bonny Eagle’s Brady Grass and Westbrook’s Jonathan Lapika clash on Grass’s home turf Saturday morning.The Blazes’ Varney Kai goes up against Bonny Eagle’s Brady Grass in midair. Kai scored Westbrook’s third goal.Bonny Eagle’s Jeff Martin (1) and Maccoy Freeman (14) vie with Westbrook’s Isaiah Manoogian for a header.The Scots’ Aiden Rausch heads one away; Ryan Moody looks on.The Blazes’ Pat Weimer and the Scots’ Michael Rovaris collide.