Silver Chips Online

Blazers triumph in the mud bowl

Boys varsity soccer wins 2-1 on senior night

By Phillip Allen, Online Managing Sports Editor
October 26, 2005
Oct. 24, BLAZER STADIUMó

Blair's varsity boys' soccer team arrived at Blazer Stadium shortly after 6:00 p.m. with little enthusiasm for the approaching senior night game. Pouring rain, biting winds and a surprisingly low temperature all seemed to silence the team. Yet the referees deemed the field playable and the "mud bowl" began. Blair played poorly in the first half, but after capitalizing on two penalty kicks in the second half, they came away the winners over visiting Walter Johnson with a score of 2-1. Blair improved its record to 8-4.

The Blazers have become accustomed to slow starts and tonight was no exception. Walter Johnson dominated the soaked field in the beginning of the first half, winning every loose ball while maintaining position much more effectively than Blair. Junior mid-fielder Jack Graul described the start as "another lazy performance out of the gate." The Blazers' lackluster start resulted in the Wildcats' first goal. Blair lost possession of the ball in the center of the field, and Walter Johnson capitalized as a Wildcat kicked a quick pass down field to a streaking forward who shot the ball into the far corner of the net.

The deficit gave the Blazers their first real spark of the night. Blair began to possess the ball much more effectively and play with an intensity they had lacked earlier in the game. Blair's improved play reached a anticlimactic peak of sorts with two squandered scoring opportunities by senior mid-fielders Bereket Abebe and Vince Howard. The team headed into half down, but after some inspiring words from head coach Adrian Baez, Blair took the field with a new sense of passion.

The motivated Blazers came out strong, threatening with three shots in the first seven minutes. Then, eight minutes into the half, Abebe used a lighting quick step-over move to split the Wildcats' defense, but just as he began to shoot, he was tackled from behind. The referee awarded the Blazers a penalty kick and senior forward Mac Kpadeh wasted no time, shooting the ball into the right side of the net, tying the game at 1-1. This marked the major turning point in the game. Graul explained, "The first PK gave us the power and motivation to take control of the game."

Blair kept up the offensive pressure while the defense contained the Wildcats by not allowing them any scoring opportunities in the second half until the last few minutes. With 13 minutes left in the game and the score still tied 1-1 junior mid-fielder Alec McLean played a ball over the Wildcats' defense towards Kpadeh. Kpadeh then trapped it, but while setting up to shoot he was tackled, drawing another penalty kick. Junior forward Yendoukoa Lamboni took the kick and like Kpadeh earlier, drove the ball into the back of net to give Blair the lead.

The Wildcats made one last desperate push, but several goal-saving tackles by junior Firew Abriham secured Blair's eighth victory. Senior co-captain Adam MacLeod thought that Abraham's solid performance was one of the main factors in the win. "[Abriham] saved our defense from several close plays. He was outnumbered more than once when other parts of our defense broke down," he said, "but as always he held fast."

Even through the terrible weather the seniors stayed after and received recognition after their final regular season game. Coach Adrian Baez presented each of the seven seniors with a rose and a word of appreciation and praise for each player's contribution to the program. Even in the freezing conditions the seniors appreciated the gesture. Senior forward Bereket Abebe called the recognition a "really nice surprise."

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/5793