Boys soccer cannot erase poor first half, fall 2-1
Nov. 1, CHURCHILL—
Coach Adrian Baez ended his speech after the game saying, "This has been my best year at Blair. An 11-5 record is great." Unfortunately for the boys' varsity soccer team, Blair had started the day at 11-4, losing in the second round of the playoffs to Churchill in a game which symbolized all the struggles that Blair has gone through this year. A poorly played first half in which Blair fell behind 0-2 was too much of a deficit to overcome, even after the Blazers dominated the last 40 minutes of the game.
The first half was one of Blair's most lackadaisical as they struggled to maintain possession, make clean passes and win loose balls against a talented and well organized Churchill team. After every punt from senior goalie Adam Macleod a Churchill player always came away with the ball, making it almost impossible for Blair to put any offensive pressure on the Churchill defense. "Intensity was our largest problem, everything else stemmed off from that," said Baez.
The midfield also struggled to move the ball up the field. Their passes were often inaccurate, and the slightest mistake allowed a Churchill defender to cut off the pass or strip the ball from the Blair attackers.
The first goal scored against Blair was an amazing shot from over 30 yards outside of the goal. The kick was so strong and unexpected that it left the Blair defense and their goalie stunned. Macleod was forced to watch as the bullet shot went into the top left corner of the net. He simply had no time to react.
The second goal was the result of poor defensive planning on the Blair side. As Churchill moved up the field, several of their forwards moved into the box and the Blair defenders simply did not mark up. After a cross moved the ball into the box, an unmarked Churchill forward was able to trap the ball and quickly shoot a low, hard shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.
At the end of the first half Blair began to gain some momentum which they carried into the final 40 minutes of the game. During the second half Blair took control of the game by showing an increased desire to win. The players ran harder, passed more accurately, kept possession of the ball and all in all simply outplayed Churchill in the second half.
Still it was not enough for Blair to take the lead, but they did cut their deficit. Blair scored in the final minutes of the game on a short goal from junior Yendoukoa Lamboni. After the score Churchill collapsed their players into the box in an attempt to stop as many Blair attacks as possible. Every shot seemed to hit a defender before it could even get to the opposing goalie. It was a nerve racking way to end the game as Blair took shot after shot, each one bouncing back towards midfield. Blair played hard until the end of the game, but racing against the clock and Churchill was simply too much, and the score stayed at 2-1.
Coach Baez was still positive about the season as a whole. "It was excellent, the way the seniors stepped up to make sure this season was great." Coach Baez also was also excited about next year. "We have a lot of great juniors, we should definitely be competitive."
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