The Blazers celebrate a win against Paint Branch (2-0) in an easy match.
On Oct. 6, Blair's boys' varsity soccer (0-3-2) dominated the field in their match against the Paint Branch Panthers (1-9) to earn a 2-0 win . The Panthers worked hard but they were no match for the Blazers.
The game started off with a stalled momentum. Both the Blazers and Panthers tried to score but the attempts were lackluster, and each team’s goalie easily blocked every shot. 20 minutes into the game, Panthers attempted to score with a slow indirect free kick awarded by the referee, but Blair's goalie, senior Eli Fetter, tipped the ball over the crossbar and saved the goal.
Sophomore midfielder Oscar Rivas steadily kept the Blazers' offense going with strategic maneuvers and was an integral part of Blair’s offense in the first half. Rivas dribbled through the Panthers’ defense and passed to his teammates, assisting attempts to score. In addition to assists, Rivas also attempted to score himself. However, Paint Branch's goalie knocked the ball out of the goal by diving to the ground just in time.
With remarkable defenses from both sides, the match went into halftime with a score of 0-0. The Blazers were slightly discouraged by the game's slow pace but tried to remain optimistic. "I mean, it's a soccer score… but we always hope we're going to win and are already winning on some measurables," John Haigh, the coach said.
Following a sluggish first half, Blair and Paint Branch upped their offenses to an intense pace. Just eight minutes into the second half, defender Joao Gonzalez shot the ball within the 20 yard line. However, with a tough defense, the Panthers blocked the attempt right before it went into the goal area.
Taking motivation from Gonzalez's attempt, Blair's plays on the field started heating up. With 32 minutes left in the game, junior midfielder William Lankenau dribbled through the Panthers' defense and launched a close-range shot from the side to score the first goal of the match. The audience and team cheered for Lankenau, inspiring hopes to win the match and reviving the team's spirit.
After Lankenau’s goal, the pace of the game sped up dramatically, with both teams fighting aggressively to dominate ball possession. The Panthers fought hard to rebound and to catch up to the Blazers' lead. 22 minutes into the second half, the Panthers were awarded an indirect free kick again. However, while Paint Branch managed to get the ball near the goal, Blair's defense worked together and blocked the attempt.
With approximately 10 minutes left of the game, Blair was awarded a free kick. Again, Rivas stepped up to take it and kicked the ball within the penalty box. Striker Cole Sullivan headed the ball a couple inches down from the crossbar towards the goal, but Paint Branch's goalie blocked it. However, Blair was not fazed and would not let Paint Branch rain on their parade. At a brilliantly-rapid pace with energy crackling through the team and crowd, striker Hernan Guzman-Vasquez fought his way over undetected and shot the ball into the goal, just out of goalie’s reach. For the rest of the 10 minutes, the Blazers' defense kept the Panthers at bay by maintaining possession.
At the end of the match, spirits were high for the Blazers. Senior midfielder Dalton Reyes, was proud of his team's win. "I think we did pretty good. This was our first game without getting scored on, so I think it's a great step in the right direction for our defense and team in general," Reyes said.
Lankenau, inspired by his performance, hopes for the best for future games too. "I'm so happy. Keep moving with the [wins]," Lankenau said. "We face big competition later on, and we're going to be ready for them."
The Blazers will play their next home game on Monday, Oct. 18 at 7:15 against the Clarksburg Coyotes.
Jackie Wang. Staff writer More »