BRANDON — A talented squad from Proctor stole the show on Monday, dominating the Otter Valley Union High School boys’ soccer team, 5-0, in the first-ever game played on OV’s Markowski Field, the newly rebuilt playing surface behind the Route 7 school.
The Phantoms — one of a handful of serious contenders for the Division IV crown — converted on three corner kicks and a long throw-in and mustered 46 shots at goal while the Otters managed just three shots.
Twenty-six of the Phantom shots were on target, and OV sophomore goalie Grant Robin made a fine debut in net with 21 saves, many of the challenging variety, and also came out of his net to break up a number of scoring chances.
“He’s an awesome goalie,” said new OV coach Mark Quenneville.
OV defender Robert Kelly and Mac Lacy, who played stopper and midfield also had strong days, while backs Zach Walsh, Mark McDuff and Brett Lertola all had good moments.
“Our defense, I thought, was solid. Our halfbacks should have come back and supported them a little bit better. But our defense and goalie did a heck of a job,” Quenneville said.
But Quenneville acknowledged that OV must work on marking up better on opponents’ set plays, and on moving better without the ball and linking up to move up the field on the attack.
OTTER VALLEY’S JEREMIAH Cole battles for position with Proctor’s Keagan McDonell in front of Otter Valley Union High School’s new stadium built on the side of Markowski Field. The Otters lost the home opener, 5-0. Independent photo/Trent Campbell
“We’ve got to open the field up. We’re bunching way too much,” he said.
The Phantoms struck first in the 14th minute. A Keagan McDonnell throw-in from the right side reached Ricky Carroll in the goalmouth, and he bodied the ball in from close range.
Two minutes later OV had a chance, but right midfielder Bronson Harvey’s blast from the right side set up by Tyler Quenneville found the side netting.
Proctor made it 2-0 at exactly 27 minutes in. OV had only one defender to cover two Phantoms at the far post on a corner kick. One of them, Josh Taranovich, converted Justin Carter’s long serve.
In the final minute of the first half, the Phantoms responded to some OV pressure with a counterattack goal. Carter served a long diagonal ball from the left side to Cody Greene, who moved past the lone defender and hit an 18-yard rocket back into the upper left corner, giving Robin no chance.
The Phantoms converted another far post corner kick in the fourth minute of the second half, this time Calvin Knowles converting Carter’s third assist.
OV had a couple chances in the half, forcing Proctor keeper Justin Ratti to make saves. Matt Dier put a long direct kick on net, and Ratti came out to deny Chris Cimonette with three minutes to go after a long serve into the box.
In between, Robin came up big. In one series of mid-half saves Robin stopped frustrated Phantom forward John Connell three times from close range, once by snaring a low bid, once by tipping a hit shot over the bar, and once by diving to knock a shot ticketed for the lower left corner wide.
Still, Proctor added one more score on one more corner kick, this time in the final minute, when Greg Elrick muscled Connell’s serve from the left side into the near corner.
Coach Quenneville tipped his hat to Proctor.
“They have a lot of talent, and they opened up the field on us,” he said. “They just had, it seemed like, an open man everywhere.”
And that’s, Quenneville said, what the Otters will be working on: ball movement and positioning.
“We’re not opening up the field,” he said. “We don’t have people in the right positions.”