(Newburyport MA) Both teams are still undefeated in the Cape Ann League but there wasn’t a lot of celebrating after today’s game.
“I thought we had them,” said Newburyport coach Shawn Bleau afterwards. “We were up 2-0 and playing well.”
The Clippers took a 2-0 lead with 16:37 left in the second half. They had taken more shots and certainly had been set up with more corner kicks.
But the Hornets (4-1-1) can score and in a span of just over a minute had the two goals back.
“Newburyport scored that second goal and it would have been easy for us to put out heads down, but we didn’t,” recalled ME coach Robbie Bilsbury. “It was great that we were able to battle back.”
Freshman Will Acquaviva had a goal and an assist for Newburyport (2-0-3) while sophomore Naderson Curtis did the same for Manchester-Essex.
Yes, Will is Sam’s brother. Sam moved from soccer and became a tremendous long-distance runner for the Clippers. He’s now a freshman at MIT.
“We knew about Will in youth soccer,” said Coach Bleau. “I coached Sam before he turned to cross country. Luckily, for us, Will likes soccer a little more than running.”
The Clippers, led by super-active Ryan Archer, were relentless in harassing ME in their own end in the first half. “We knew that we could pressure them carrying out from the back,” said Coach Bleau. “Ryan Archer did a great job.”
Newburyport also had Max Gagnon shadowing Hornets playmaker Kellen Furse.
The Clippers took a 1-0 lead with about nine minutes left in the first half. Junior Owen Spence collected the goal off a tremendous feed from Will Acquaviva.
“We’ve been working on bringing the ball to the end line and cutting it back across,” said Coach Bleau. “Will came in on the left and sent the ball across to Owen Spence on the right. Owen wasted no time in getting off a shot. It was nice to see them execute something we’ve been working on in practice.”
Junior Ryan Archer set up the Clippers second goal. “It was Ryan hustling his butt off,” added Coach Bleau. “He got off a shot and their keeper made a terrific save.” But there was a rebound and Will Acquaviva was there to cash it in.
The goal happened at 16:37 and you did sense at the time that it was more likely that Newburyport would score the next goal.
Why? They now had a two-goal lead, it was hot, they were playing at home……..but it didn’t matter.
“Newburyport asserted themselves early,” said Coach Bilsbury. “They were tough on every 50/50 ball, won headers, slide tackled, hustled, and outworked us. We wanted to impose our possession style on them because they were closing us down. We picked up our scrappiness in the second half. Getting that first goal was crucial.”
The first ME score was not only timely but it came quickly after the Newburyport score…….just under ninety seconds later (15:12).
“Striker Naderson Curtis found a little pocket of space and fed a pass through to Kellen Furse near the goalie,” said Coach Bilsbury. “Kellen was able to poke the pass by the NHS goalie (Stefan Berlind).”
Kellen and Stefan arrived at the ball at the same time and the resulting collision sent the ball toward the goal. Defenders Cameron McDermott and Graham Smith did everything they could to keep the ball from crossing the goal-line. Graham slide across the goal mouth but the shot had crossed the line.
Just over a minute later (14:01) the Hornets stunned the home team with another goal.
“It was a corner kick,” recalled Coach Bilsbury. “There was pressure on the goalie, and he may have mishandled it, but we’ll take it. Getting the equalizer was huge for us.”
The ME pressure was supplied by a jumping Thomas Birkeland who effected a clear look at the CK and by Eli Cox who was very close to GK Stefan Berlind.
“We had breakdowns in the back on both of their goals,” said Coach Bleau. “Our keeper needs to talk up a little bit more. It’s something we can fix. Missing a play can happen but not being vocal back there shouldn’t.”
Coach Bleau: “We’ve had a couple of ties. It’s tough. It’s bad on our stomachs. Hopefully our guys can pick up on that and turns ties into wins in the future.”
One area the Clippers will have to get better on is corner kicks. They had plenty of them and just couldn’t get the ball and bodies near the ME goalie Ben Goutal and create scoring chances.
Beautiful weather in a terrific stadium to play soccer and to watch soccer.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)