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Oct. 8, 2009

Boys’ soccer overruns Paintbranch's weaknesses

by Jialin Quinlan, Page Editor
Blazer Stadium, Oct. 7 –

Varsity boys’ soccer (3-3) soundly beat the Paintbranch Panthers in a well-played match, ending with a victory score of 3-0. After coming off a disappointing loss to Springbrook, the Blazers were determined and pumped to defeat Paintbranch.

Blair immediately started off strong and kept the game plays at a fast pace, taking advantage of Paintbranch’s lack of players. They were able to maintain the intensity throughout the game and sent the Panthers chasing the ball up and down the field.

About 20 minutes into the first half, the Paintbranch goalie stepped out to block a shot but was unable to return to his position in a timely manner to stop a quick shot from senior Milton Flores. This was Flores’s first goal as a varsity player and later he assisted another goal.

The second and third goals were scored by sophomore George de Rossi in the second half. De Rossi’s second goal came as the Blazers advanced the ball downfield with a series of clean passes. Flores passed the ball just within de Rossi’s reach and he kicked the ball streaking past the Paintbranch goalie. Head coach John Haigh was impressed with his team’s performance. “Everything we asked them to do tonight, they did better,” Haigh said.

The Blazers moved the ball expertly across the field, capitalizing on the Panthers’ shortage of substitutes. By the end of the first half, several Blazers had been knocked to the ground as Paintbranch grew increasingly tired and resorted to sloppy play. The offensive line and the midfield kept the ball on the Panthers’ side of the field for the majority of the game, with the defense stepping in and slamming the ball back up the field when the few Paintbranch breakaways occurred.

Evident in the game was the team's strong cohesion by making smart passes and finding the open players on the field. Senior co-captains Aaron and Xander Baldwin, along with senior Otis Banwell, kept the team focused, with the Baldwins making plays in the back and midfield and Banwell tearing up the sidelines. “We had much better communication and off the ball movement," Xander Baldwin said.

Blair dominated possession of the ball through the entire game. With some fancy footwork displayed by sophomore Kevin Fallet and freshman Stallon Ndawula, along with senior Jamie Thomas constantly stealing back the ball, the Blazers were able to send the ball through, over, and around the Panthers, essentially playing keep-away with their worn-out opponents. A lack of communication from Paintbranch allowed Blazers to take advantage of their poor passes.

With about ten minutes left in the game, a Panther managed to break away from the Blazer defense and went for the goal, only to have the shot deflected as senior goalkeeper Vikas Mendhiratta dove to knock the ball out.

The game was a significant improvement from their previous match and the boys team are invigorated to keep the same momentum and skill level for future plays. “It was a dramatic improvement from last game,” Xander Baldwin said.





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