Blair stumbles past Springbrook


Sept. 29, 2005, midnight | By Jonah Gold | 14 years, 11 months ago

Boys soccer shows a lackluster effort in 2-0 win


Sept. 28, BLAZER STADIUM—

The boys' varsity soccer team has been mired by inconsistency all this year. Over their three most recent games before tonight, Blair had won games of 7-0 and 3-2, while also losing one game 0-6. Blair was able to pull out a 2-0 victory today, but it was against a much weaker Springbrook team, that Blair should have routed. Blair's offense was inefficient, lacking good passes and quick touches, but the defense was able to keep Blair in the game by shutting out their opponent for the third time this year. Blair has now raised its record to 4-2.

Throughout this season, Blair has been sluggish in the first half, scoring very few goals, even when dominating play. While Blair was able to keep the ball on Springbrook's half of the field for almost 90% of the first half tonight, Blair was unable to pass effectively, often forcing balls up the field to guarded forwards who were immediately stripped by a defender. Coach Adrian Baez thought that there were two root causes for the slow start to the game. "People were holding onto the ball too long. They were keeping the ball for three or four touches when it should have been one or two." Because people often kept the ball for too many touches, Springbrook defenders were able to get into position, limiting breakaways and open shots for the Blair squad.

Junior Lamboni Yendoukoa felt that were other factors that led to a scoreless first half for the Blazers. "We just weren't prepared," said Yendoukoa after the game. This has been a constant theme for the Blazers, who have often underestimated opponents, leading to troublesome first halves.

In last game's 7-0 win, Blair entered halftime with the score 0-0, but was able to change the pace of the game by putting in several substitutes early in the second half. This same tactic was used in tonight's game, but to little avail. Blair was unable to seriously threaten the Springbrook goalie, because Blair rarely advanced the ball within shooting distance, even with a rotating cast of players.

Baez felt that Blair was not getting shots off because the players were eager to retain the ball and hope for a clearer or closer look at the goal. "We have to take shots when we see them, there's no need to wait" said Baez after the game. Often players received a pass outside of the box, but because of their long possessions, Springbrook defenders converged, limiting not only direct shots on goal, but also clear passing lanes for the Blair team.

In the second half of the game, Blair showed little change and seemed to be destined for a 0-0 tie. A lack of offensive spark kept most of the play near the center of the field, and Blair was unable to advance deep into Springbrook territory. Luckily, Blair was able to capitalize on the opportunities they were eventually afforded. With 17 minutes left in the game, junior Alex Asare-Wassow shot a seemingly normal corner kick towards a mass of Blair players in the inside box. The ball did not fall and instead curved slightly inward, hitting the inside of the net to many people's disbelief. The stands remained quiet for almost 15 seconds before Asare-Wassow raised his fist and started jogging back towards midfield. Soon the stands were clapping with great enthusiasm, happy that Blair was able to break the tie against a team they had clearly overplayed for most of the game.

At the same time, the corner kick goal showed the general ineptness of the Blair offense in tonight's game. Blair's lack of continuity and accurate passing severely limited their offensive prowess, and it was not until a seemingly fluke corner kick that Blair was able to take the lead. Blair however, was able to score again four minutes later when Yendoukoa lured the Springbrook goalie too far out. Yendoukoa simply touched the ball past the goalie and shot it into an empty net to bring the score to 2-0.

While Blair's offense sputtered throughout the game, their defense was solid, preventing almost any Springbrook advances into Blair territory. In fact, junior goalie Matt McClain faced only one serious shot in all 80 minutes, when Springbrook lofted a high ball from over 30 yards away. As the ball began to fall, it seemed destined to go over Blair's goalie, but McClain was able to use his height to his advantage, pushing the ball over the goal with relative ease where other goalies would have failed.

After the game it became clear that unless changes were made Blair would fall quickly to next weeks competition: Watkins Mill, one of the best teams in Montgomery County. Baez said, "we need to improve our midfield coverage, but after we do that we should be solid for next week." Baez hopes to limit Watkins Mill shots by keeping the ball out of range. Increased coverage in the middle of the field could also lead to more strips and thus offensive opportunities for the Blazers.

Yendoukoa thought that there were other changes that Blair could make to remain competitive against Watkins Mill. "We need to be physical and we need to come prepared to play. Today we did not."

Blair's next game is next Wednesday at home against Watkins Mill at 7:00 p.m.



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