Blazers unable to maintain a lead, tie 2-2 in double overtime
BLAZER STADIUM, Oct. 4 -
Despite formidable defensive play from Blair's backfield, the varsity boys' soccer team (3-2-1) came up empty handed as they settled for a 2-2 draw with the Wootton Patriots. Entering the game with several fresh disappointments, Blair lacked coherence between the defense and offense, forcing them to fight through double overtime, but still ending just short of a victory.
The start of the game was not up to par with recent play. Wootton started the game with confidence after a 1- 0 win against Springbrook, while Blair started slow. "We had trouble getting started and weren't playing at full speed because we weren't fully warmed up," junior Lukas Peterson said.
Even when Blair was successfully able to move the ball up the field on offense, they were unable to finish plays. Despite Blair's slow start, Wootton was unable to fully test keeper Alexis Castillo. Their only scoring opportunities arose when the Blazer defense was slowly in transition. "Once again we're showing weaknesses in the defense. A couple of my defenders want to play midfield, but this leaves holes in the back," coach Adrian Baez said.
Although the goal count showed dead even, Blair maintained possession of the ball towards the end of the half. Junior defender Xander Baldwin continually brought the ball down the field, which opened up opportunities in the box and gave the defense well-deserved rest.
The Blazers walked off the field disconcerted after the half time whistle, frustrated at their inability to finish several key offensive attempts. Baez tried to get the team pumped during the break. "It must have worked because we went out strong," senior Eliot Gold said.
After a half-time break that helped Blair regain a sense of urgency, the Blazers started off tough. They dominated the first ten minutes of the second half, building offensive momentum that finally ended the standstill.
Freshmen Jorge Pacheco dribbled down the field, weaving in and out of defenders and creating an opening for a goal. He then chipped it over the heads of Wootton players for a header goal by senior Mike McClain.
With a goal under their belts, the boy's team became over confident and took to nonchalant play. "We let our guard down after our goal," junior Aaron Baldwin said. "They didn't ease up after we scored, even though it looked like we did."
After several minutes of close play, Wootton scored the equalizer with a goal from their speedy strikers. Wootton's goal was a scary realization for Blair.
But the boys' team remained motivated and, after several close free kicks, they got one in the net in the 24th minute of the second half. Aaron Baldwin took a free kick and a header from junior Erik Opsahl and a final volley into the net from junior defender Jamie Thomas gave the Blazers a lead. But once again, Blair lost focus and let Wootton score a second goal. "When we should have been putting them out of the game, we let them right back in," Gold said.
Despite several more on target shots by Aaron Baldwin and senior co-captain Mikey Funes, Blair was unable to re-establish a lead even after double overtime. The team was disappointed with their performance and inability to maintain a lead. "We have the team to beat anyone," senior co-captain Erick Hernandez said. "We just have to play our best."
In what is becoming an increasingly apparent trend, the Blazers struggled to put the ball in the net, leaving their opponents with chances to win. "We've attained a good level, but at this point we're letting the other teams into the game," a disappointed Baez said. "We need to stop that kind of play."
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