Soccer, according to one of the sport’s experts at the match, “is a game of moments. Even though one team may control the ball for a majority of the time, one bad moment and the team with the advantage encounters a moment in which its opponent converts a random opportunity into a goal.” This cognoscente accurately described the first 40 minutes of the Bears v. Bulldogs match on Prindle Field on Tuesday and ironically it also is an apt summary of the last few moments of the home team’s 5th victory,
From the opening kickoff, the Landon soccer team controlled possession. The defenders– Nico Kenary, Peter Gilbert, Brian Lossing, Parker Lotstein—plus Alex Freed, goalie (7 saves) frustrated their opponents’ efforts to get the ball into the home team’s 18 yard box.
Coach Reed, assisted by Coach Healy, has significant advantage in his depth. Unfortunately, the substitutions were so frequent, that recording the “in’s” and “out’s”. Apologies, because many players are due recognition, only the starters were captured. One might attribute the Bears’ victory late in the 78’-80’ minutes to wearing down the Bulldogs with the waves of talented Bears.
For much of first 20 minutes, Bears were controlling the ball in their offensive zone. A pattern seemed to develop; an initial pass— whether through several defenders or switching the ball from one side to the opposite or anticipating a sprint by a teammate—connected and the 2nd connection also worked, but the critical 3rd movement of the ball just missed. The ball was in the scoring range, but the Bears were unable to finish. Credit is due to the Bulldog D and goalie for forcing the home team on the perimeter.
One of the StA strikers drew a penalty (after the referee consulted with one linesman) and the Bulldogs converted to make it 1-0 @ 34:00. Bad moment #1.
The visitors got energy from their goal; their defenders were more physical and the midfielders/forwards moved better with the ball.
HALFTIME BULLDOGS 1 BEARS 0
The next stanza had an early bad note. StA’s VERY tall forward sprinted down the field and in spite of good closing by the Landon D and a brilliant save by Alex Freed, the ball rebounded to a Bulldog and ricocheted off of a visitor for a goal at 44:55.
Again, the visitors appeared more electrified in their play, but the home team did not relent.
The many Landon substitutes made the StA starters work harder and the effect was shown @ 70:41when Jackson Powell was able to out maneuver his Bulldog opponent and center the ball to #17 Alan Kupka who ripped the back of the net. Those who believe in numerology can cite this goal as proof of its validity—today is Alan’s 17th birthday.
This positive moment created momentum for the Bears. Zach Johnson moved the ball into an area portending danger for the Bulldogs; so much so that one of the visitors used illegal force to try to inhibit Zach. The referee indicated that this interference merited a penalty kick. Drew Parker beat the StA goalie to tie the score 2-2 @ ~ 77:00.
Soon thereafter, Nico Kenary moved into the Bears’ O zone and connected with Parker Lotstein for the go ahead tally@ less than 78:00.
The momentum had more inertia; again within the last two minutes the #17 on his 17th passed to Drew Parker for the insurance score—4-2.
The Bulldogs were a tenacious as their mascot’s reputed unwillingness to concede. A corner kick was well placed in the scrum in front of the net. The 1st StA shot hit the crossbar, a 2nd hit the post and a 3rd went wide. Possession Bears and after the longest 120 seconds in my memory, the referee blew the three tweets of his whistle to signify the end of the hard fought match.
FINAL SCORE BEARS 4 BULLDOGS 2