BRISTOL — On Tuesday at Mount Abraham, the Middlebury Union High School boys’ soccer team spotted the host Eagles an early goal, but dominated the rest of the first half, scoring three unanswered goals on the way to a rare win in the county rivalry, 4-2.
The Tigers — who fielded their full lineup for the first time since their opening game, moved to 3-2-1. The Eagles — who were shorthanded because of two-week disciplinary suspensions to one starter and two substitutes — dropped to 2-2-1.
Tiger senior captain Ethan Roy, a three-year starter who scored the tie-breaking goal, enjoyed his first win over the Eagles.
“It feels good. It’s been a while,” Roy said. “All three years it’s just been frustrating against them, but finally.”
Roy said on Tuesday the Tigers were more patient, controlling the ball, moving better without it, and, critically, attacking from the flanks, a tactic that produced all three first-half goals.
“I thought we moved the ball a lot better. Usually we’ve been going right down the middle, and I thought we used the width well,” Roy said. “We didn’t always just go forward, and we possessed the ball a lot better.”
Mount Abe coach Mike Corey credited the Tigers for their first-half performance, and his team for bouncing back after the break.
“Middlebury in the first half played really well ... I’m not sure what our guys were doing. They were kind of watching,” Corey said. “I think they would recognize, and we talked about it at halftime, there was a lack of urgency and effort there ... I said, you know, I could talk about a bunch of things tactically we could do differently, but let’s just go out and put more effort into it, and I thought they did in the second half.”
The Tigers pressed early, but the Eagles scored on a counterattack. Mount Abe midfielder Andy Dubenetsky moved quickly down the left side and found Alex McCormick just to the left of the penalty stripe. McCormick headed into the far corner, giving Tiger goalie David Burt (three saves) no chance at 31:47.
Four minutes later, Tiger Holden Amory equalized. He took a ball sent in from the left side by Andrew Myhre with a defender on his back, and wheeled around the Eagle toward the right post before firing back across inside the left post past Eagle goalie John Lower (four saves).
The Tigers then took charge, with defenders and midfielders working to bottle the Eagles up — stopper Graham Barlow was particularly effective stepping up a midfield — but MUHS did not score for another 19 minutes.
They missed some opportunities by over-passing and Timo Krekeler shot high twice, and Eagle defender Ben Smith made a saving tackle on Amory. At the other end, the Eagles mustered one chance, but Dylan Thygesen’s 12-yard blast went right to Burt.
Roy gave MUHS the lead at 9:08. Midfielder Marrott Weekes controlled on the left side after the Tigers disrupted an Eagle clear. Weekes fed Roy on the 18, and his left-footed shot found the upper left corner.
At 2:14, Krekeler, a threat all day, made it 3-1 by heading home a strong serve from Myhre from the left side.
At 38:23 of second half Krekeler struck again. Nico Mackey sent a diagonal ball into the Eagle box after a Weekes steal, and the Eagles hesitated for an instant. Krekeler got there first and banged it home.
Soon afterward, Lower made a fine stop on Mackey, and play evened out. At the midway point, McCormick picked up a pass from Dubenetsky on the right flank, beat a defender to the top of the box, and delivered a rocket to the upper right corner.
But the Tiger defense regrouped after that, with Joseph Neidorf and Burt each making plays to deny Eagle striker Grayson Webb. Outside back Christian Higgins also played well for MUHS.
Center back Zach Ellison and midfielder Will Meyer showed well for the Eagles, as did midfielder Billy Roberts, who has been inserted into the lineup due to the discipline issues.
“When we went into this situation, I said, you know guys, here’s an opportunity to show your coach and teammates that you deserve the minutes and you can really help the team,” Corey said. “And over the last couple games there’s been a couple boys who have encouraged me in that regard. So when we do get healthy and get folks back, hopefully it will make us a better team.”
MUHS coach Doc Seubert was happy to have his team close to whole again, and to see them improve their performance.
“I thought we were a little more patient tonight and used the width,” Seubert said. “We created at least three of the goals by going wide.”
Roy said another factor is working in the Tigers’ favor.
“I think this team has the best team chemistry of any of the teams I’ve been on. We all get along, and there are no cliques or anything. It’s fun,”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]