Blair boys’ soccer prevailed against Northwood after a scoreless 90 minutes.
On Monday, Sept 11 the Blair boys’ varsity soccer (1-0) kicked off their season by defeating the Northwood Gladiators (1-1) in an intense battle ending 1-0. This year's installment of the Battle of the Boulevard dramatically ended in overtime with the Blazers just barely edging out on top.
From the jump, this rivalry was overtly obvious. Each team pressed the other hard, forcing mistakes and turnovers. Northwood’s first real look at goal slipped just wide after their striker surpassed Blair’s impregnable offside trap.
Fifteen minutes in, it was clear both teams lacked a clear direction or formation. Players huddled together in tight-quarters, losing possession and winning it back again. Northwood finally broke free of the saturated midfield and attacked Blair’s defense, drawing an indirect freekick from junior defender Quinn Kelly in the process.
The attempt was smashed into the wall and collected by Blair who went on the counter. This marked a shift in the game where the Blazers finally began to connect with each other. Now living in Northwood’s half, they linked up with short quick passes –also known as “tiki-taka” –maintaining possession and eying any chance to break the Gladiator’s lines.
That chance came in the thirty-third minute when senior captain and striker Gabe Marra-Perrault and senior captain and midfielder Kevin Quincin, linked up, leaving Quincin open for a shot that ultimately bounced off the post. Sophomore midfielder Lyon Alvarez’s follow up shot was deflected and went out for a corner.
Now clearly on the front foot, Blair didn’t let up. They were awarded another corner, beautifully taken by Alvarez. The ball curled to the back post where senior winger Alejandro Dubon attempted an acrobatic scissor-kick that was unfortunately saved by Northwood’s keeper.
The last 10 minutes of the half saw the Blazers still in control. Players combined to create space in dangerous areas, poking and prodding at Northwood’s tiring backline. Despite their dominance, the Blazers were unable to crack the opposing defense in the first half. Heading into the second, the score remained 0-0.
Comparable to the start, Northwood got the first clear-cut opportunity of the half. A quick Gladiator slipped in behind and was through on goal, forcing a tough save out of junior goalkeeper Caleb Johnson.
Besides the early chance, Northwood’s offense was tame and didn’t apply any pressure on Blair. The Blazers’ strong midfield presence provided attackers with numerous chances to put Blair ahead.
Down on the wing, Dubon skillfully chipped the ball over a defender's out-stretched leg and perfectly reversed it for Marra-Perrault, garnering quite a reaction from the crowd. Unfortunately, Marra-Perrault sent it over the bar – an uncharacteristic miss for the striker.
With no more than five minutes left, Northwood was called for a foul about 30 yards out. Alvarez stepped up and lofted the ball onto Marra-Perrault’s head, who set it for Kelly. Supposedly a simple tap-in, a heroic Gladiator spectacularly bicycle-kicks the ball off the goal line and into the crossbar to keep it out.
As the majority of fans celebrated, the Blazers continued their struggle, retreating and defending the ensuing Northwood counter-attack. Both teams held out and the horn sounded after a scoreless match, heading into overtime.
Blair’s stamina proved to be the deciding factor as they continued to press even after playing 90 minutes. Junior midfielder Owen Boots intercepted it from an exhausted Northwood and played a delicate through-ball to Marra-Perrault who passed it into the back of the net, atoning for his previous misses. The Blazers concluded the game 1-0 in an exciting fashion, barely beating out the Northwood Gladiators.
Marra-Perrault spoke to the feeling after snatching the win. “It was pure joy. We were fighting for it the whole time so to finally [score] was a super happy moment,” Marra-Perrault said.
Blair will play Magruder (away) on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 7:15 p.m.
Caleb Elazar. Hey I'm Caleb, I'm on writing staff and I like playing soccer, listening to music and spending time with my friends and family. More »