Blazers hang on for a 1-0 win
BLAZER STADIUM, Oct. 21 –
With another victory that has become trend for the team, boy's varsity soccer won the last home game of the regular season. The Blazers battled it out to win 1-0 against the Gaithersburg Trojans.
As it was Blair's senior night, it seemed only fitting that senior midfielder Jamie Thomas scored the only goal of the night. Thomas's feet found the ball just outside the 15-yard line and he sent a bullet sailing past the Trojan goalkeeper and into the open net. Just returning from an injury, Thomas was an essential player, disrupting plays in the midfield and making sure that Gaithersburg players never held onto possession for very long. "He scored a key goal and distributed the ball well in the midfield," senior co-captain Xander Baldwin said.
The Blazers started out strong in the first half, pressuring Gaithersburg's defense right away. With sharp passes up the sidelines by senior midfielder Otis Banwell and senior co-captain Aaron Baldwin threading the ball through Gaithersburg's midfield, the Trojans struggled to counteract the maneuvers from Blazers. "Aaron played a great game," Xander Baldwin said. "He kept up the intensity in the midfield and took several good shots." Freshman striker Stallon Ndawula also played a solid game, taking a few shots of his own, and finding the open man. "Stallon had a couple of great crosses," Xander Baldwin said. The Blazers fought for and retained possession for the majority of the time, and although Gaithersburg was able to drive into Blazer territory a few times, they were forced on the perimeter shortly after.
Senior goalkeeper Vikas Mendhiratta played a shut-out game, stopping any balls that came within reach of the goal. Mendhiratta made several difficult saves, including one point-blank shot in the second half that he had to lunge to deflect. The blazer defense prevented any openings for the Trojans to send the ball down into Blazer territory.
A new offensive configuration used in the second half created positive results. "We used a completely different offensive formation that really opened the game up and created scoring opportunities," head coach John Haigh said.
Overall the Blazers played an excellent game, making smart passes and keeping the pressure on Gaithersburg. While there were a few missed goal opportunities, it wasn't for a lack of effort. Blair hustled to every ball, winning a large number of them, and ceaselessly rushed the ball up toward the Gaithersburg goal. "Everyone went hard tonight," Xander Baldwin said. The Blazers had several strong plays up the field, showing their cohesion and communication with a series of give-and-go's throughout the game.
Haigh was very proud of his team's win and said they have improved on many of the things that have been stressed in practice. "They did a better job supporting the offensive runs," Haigh said. "They moved as a unit."
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