By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Manchester Flying Dutchmen Boys Soccer team opened conference play with a win September 1, defeating the Columbia Central Golden Eagles 4-2 at home.
The ISL East Champion Dutchmen came into the game against the ISL West Champion Golden Eagles focused – last year they dropped the conference opener to the Golden Eagles, 5-2.
After a tournament over the previous weekend, Dutchmen head coach Travis Baker talked about the team finding its footing as they got healthier, getting everyone on the team at the games, and finding the right formation.
Sophomore Henry Wehrly started on the back line with senior Calvin Daniels moving to the midfield. Senior forward Devon Kelly returned to the lineup too after missing the prior game.
The Golden Eagles got the first attempt less than five minutes in, an unmarked man with a run towards the net during a corner, but the shot went just to the right.
In the ninth minute, sophomore Adam Pringle had a good chance on frame after a long throw from Kelly, the ball went out, but they earned a corner off the deflection.
On the corner, Pringle crossed the ball and found senior Reese Dresch right outside the six-yard box near the far post, rising above everyone else as he directed the ball into the opposite corner for the 1-0 Dutchmen lead.
As the first half went on, both teams split possession as they looked to counter quickly
With 18:30 remaining, Wehrly sustained an injury, a bloody nose, that caused him to leave the field for a few possessions. The Dutchmen shifted to only three defenders in the back as they looked to apply more pressure.
Senior forward Lenin Fierro came on for the injured Wehrly, starting on the back line before the shift that saw him move forward and Dresch, senior Owen Whitney, and Carson Ridenour take over as the three defensive backs.
The Golden Eagles had a nice through ball chance with 15 minutes left in the first half, but senior goalkeeper Brayden Hayes came out and made the save. Hayes had multiple saves throughout the night, coming off his backline to thwart any chances of the Golden Eagles scoring.
With 10:15 left in the half, however, Hayes came out and made a sliding attempt that Sonnenberg was able to avoid. Whitney used his speed to come back and bother Sonnenberg, who was wide open and on goal, to force the ball wide.
With 5:28 in the first half, Daniels struck a brilliant free kick goal, over the wall, into the upper corner, leaving the goalkeeper for the Golden Eagles no chance at the save to make the score 2-0 for the Dutchmen.
Hayes had two big saves in the last five minutes to preserve the 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
In the second half the Dutchmen shifted again, putting Daniels in the back and putting Dresch as a central forward. The move paid off as the Dutchmen were able to get quality opportunities coming out of halftime, more so than they did at the beginning of the first half.
Less than five minutes in, the Dutchmen scored on a counter attack. Daniels sent a long ball from the Dutchmen defensive third to the Golden Eagle offensive third. The Golden Eagle defender missed the ball and Fierro was all alone to take the ball in from the right side.
He did so, cutting in close, and slotted the ball low to the right for the 3-0 Dutchmen lead.
Fierro rounded off the scoring for the Dutchmen less than five minutes later, a strike from outside the 18-yard box to make it 4-0 Dutchmen.
The Golden Eagles scored two goals in the last ten minutes but would get no closer as the Dutchmen took the conference opener 4-2.
“We were focused,” said Baker. “We couldn’t drop it because it cost us last year. We were switched ‘on’ in that sense. We were still tired but focused.”
With the defensive game plan of putting Dresch on Sonnenberg and as a whole, for the defense to focus on him, the Dutchmen were able to make sure this year’s conference opener didn’t result in a loss.