VERGENNES — The visiting Mount Abraham Union High School boys’ soccer team controlled Saturday’s first half against Vergennes, scoring twice on the way to a well-earned 2-0 win.
The Eagles had the better of the chances overall, and some nice work by VUHS goalie Steven Paquette, especially in that first half, helped keep his team within striking range.
In the first 40 minutes Mount Abe got strong goals from Ira Fisher and Alex McCormick from clever setups by Cale Thygesen and Theo Weaver, respectively.
The Commodores did have two great chances, from Devin Hayes in the first half and Liam Hayes in the second half, both created by Timmy Johnston. But two Eagle goalies — Sawyer Kamman in the first half and Fisher in the second — came up big.
Ultimately, the story of the game was the Eagles’ ball control in the first half, which gave them a 13-3 edge in shots on goal; they finished with a 22-5 edge in that department. Thygesen, Weaver, Jan Liegman and McCormick were particularly effective in passing crisply, moving without the ball, and using the entire field to build the attack, to the delight of Coach Mike Corey.
“We played the game we wanted to play. We possessed the ball. We moved it quickly. We didn’t hold onto it. We didn’t play direct. We swung the field, we opened it up,” Corey said. “And eventually we created a few opportunities, so I was very pleased.”
Conversely, VUHS coach Kevin Hayes said although his team at times looked dangerous — Lane Kessler and Zach Ouellette did some nice work at midfield, as well as Johnston — the Commodores did not do those same things often enough.
“We’re just not patient enough when we get the ball on offense. We’re not switching the field. We need to establish the width first, especially on this field,” Hayes said. “We looked threatening, fast, on attack, but the ball wasn’t moved quickly enough.”
It was the Eagles who threatened early. Paquette came out on McCormick in the fourth minute, and the Eagle missed just wide left. In the 10th minute, Paquette did well to stop McCormick, Fisher hit the post on the rebound, and a second rebound bid sailed high.
The Eagles took the lead at 23:13. Thygesen, then playing central middie, carried down the middle and fed Fisher cutting into the left side of the box. Fisher drilled the ball inside the left post from about a dozen yards out.
In the 30th minute, Paquette made a terrific stop on Liegman on a feed from Weaver. Two minutes later, VUHS nearly equalized. Ouellette sprung Johnston and Devin Hayes on a two-on-one into the Eagle end. Johnston drew the defender and fed Hayes out front, but Hayes shot too close to Kamman, who snared the Commodores’ best bid of the half.
At 1:59, Mount Abe made it 2-0. The Commodores were pressing when Weaver possessed outside the Eagle box and burst down the field on a counterattack. He carried until he neared the VUHS box and fed McCormick cutting in from the left. McCormick buried the shot inside the far post.
The Eagles were not as crisp after the break, but their defense — sophomores Gus Catlin and Whit Lower, freshman Jackie Gorton, senior Sam Weaver, Thygesen and Theo Weaver all saw time in the back — held firm.
“I want to give a shout-out to our back four,” Corey said. “All in all, they did a good job.”
The one great VUHS chance came when Johnston fed Liam Hayes about five yards off the right post, and Hayes turned and got a low shot off toward the right corner. But Fisher dove to deny the bid with about 17 minutes to go. Fisher and Kamman finished with two saves apiece.
The VUHS defense of Cody Quattrocci and Jordan Stearns in the middle and Eddie Devino and Jordan Grant on the flanks also had good moments and allowed only three shots on goal in the second half.
Hayes said the 1-4 Commodores will look to bounce back this week when they host Lamoille, a team they have played well against in recent years, on Monday. They will also visit Milton, a team they handled earlier this season, on Wednesday, and compete against Green Mountain Valley there on Saturday.
“I’m hoping for at least two wins out of the three,” Hayes said.
Although senior back Matt Sweeney will be out a little longer, Corey said his team is slowly returning to full strength. Liegman returned to the lineup on Saturday, and he hopes to see veteran senior goalie Truman Daniel back from injury later this week. Daniel’s return will allow both Fisher and Kamman to play fulltime in the field.
Just as important, Corey said, is that during Saturday’s first half the Eagles showed the kind of soccer of which they are capable.
“The fact that we got back to playing the soccer that I expected we would be able to play is the biggest thing,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.