VERGENNES — In a match that offered positives for both sides, the visiting Mount Abraham Union High School boys’ soccer team edged host Vergennes on Saturday, 1-0, at the VUHS Homecoming.
The Eagles posted their third-straight shutout, improved to 3-1, and shrugged off an up-and-down first-half to assert themselves in the second half.
After the break, Mount Abe out-shot VUHS, 12-4 — part of an overall 18-8 edge — and scored when sophomore Grayson Webb took advantage of a moment of indecision by the VUHS defense.
Mount Abe senior central defender and co-captain Levi Duclos — who teamed with sophomores Ian Delafuente and Zach Ellison and freshman Alex McCormick in the back — said the Eagles heeded Coach Mike Corey’s halftime advice to focus on their ball-control game.
“Mike took control during the halftime talk,” Duclos said. “We were able to settle down a little more.”
Given that 10 seniors on last year’s team graduated, the Eagles are happy with their record this fall.
“Our team is so young ... but some of the underclassmen have been stepping up and filling positions that we lost last year,” Duclos said. “Our passing can be on-off, our technical ability, but I’m optimistic about the season overall.”
On the other side, first-year coach Kevin Hayes had been telling his young Commodores that they were better than their 0-3 record before Saturday, which included a 6-0, Sept. 10 loss to the Eagles.
Saturday’s effort — including legitimate scoring chances — showed them he was right, Hayes said.
“We’re going to take a lot from this,” he said. “They’ll be feeling good about themselves.”
In the first half, VUHS forced Eagle goalie Sam Low (two saves) to come out off his line twice early to break up plays, with freshman Timmy Johnson involved on both. Later, on one of eight VUHS corner kicks, Low had to cover up Max Flynn’s header, and Dustin Dattilio shot high on a feed from Ephraim Parker after a Jacob Firlik free kick.
Much of the VUHS pressure came from the work of VUHS midfielders Kyle Birchmore, Dattilio and Firlik, and Simon Flynn made some dangerous runs on top. At the other end, VUHS sweeper Zach Castillo was effective, and young wing backs Julian Hattler and Dominic McClay held their own.
The Eagles created chances, too, and VUHS senior Kameron Brooks, who took over in goal, made 10 saves. Brooks stopped Eagle middie Phil McCormick from close range, and later was fortunate McClay blocked an Eagle rebound bid. Strikers Nick Earle and Andy Dubenetsky also had good chances, but fired wide.
In the second half, McCormick and fellow Eagle midfielders Ryan Siegle and Will Meyer asserted themselves. Early on, Earle beat three defenders on the right side, but Brooks denied him. In the 17th minute, Dubenetsky shot high from in close on a strong Meyer serve from the left.
Finally, at 17:08, a high ball bounced in from the right side, and two VUHS defenders hesitated for an instant. Webb raced in and left-footed the ball into the right corner from near the penalty stripe.
Corey was pleased with his team’s defense and its second-half effort.
“In the second half we got back to our game a little bit, moved the ball a little more quickly and with more purpose,” Corey said.
Soon after the goal, VUHS earned a direct kick just outside the Eagle box. Birchmore drilled a shot that Low blocked, but couldn’t control. Dattilio was first to the rebound, but his left foot shot rolled just wide right. Although the Commodores kept working, the best VUHS chance to tie went by the boards.
Hayes liked his team’s spirit even after they fell behind.
“They didn’t hang their heads after that score. We came back at them,” Hayes said.
Corey agreed with Hayes’ assessment of the Commodores.
“They put us under pressure,” the Eagle coach said. “They were, in my mind, much improved over our last meeting.”