September 23, 2010
Cincy turns back Eagles' challenge
CINCINNATUS — Something had to give when the Cincinnatus Central boys’ soccer team hosted McGraw Central afternoon in a key early-season Central Counties League showdown Wednesday afternoon.
The three-time defending champion Red Lions came in at 3-0 in league play, not having allowed any goals while scoring 14. The Eagles, meanwhile, had won four CCL games, all by shutout, and scored 19 goals in the process.
While each team ended the other’s scoreless streak pretty quickly, it was Cincy that maintained its claim to league superiority as senior striker Jason Lindley scored with 5:56 left in the game to give the hosts a 2-1 victory.
“I was a little surprised,” Red Lions coach Leigh Wright, his team now 5-1 overall, admitted in the wake of the tough physical contest. “I didn’t think McGraw was as good as they played us. They came out and played hard. I heard from everyone that they were good, but I didn’t want to believe they were as good as everyone said. No doubt, that’s a tough team.
“Every team in the league comes to play us. It makes sense. I think that being the three-time champ is a psychological advantage that helps other teams play better against us than they usually do,” he added.
“We hung with them, but I think that they outskilled us toward the end,” said Eagles coach Cory Smith, whose team lost for the first time this fall after six wins and a tie. “We were a little tired. We had five games in nine days through Monday, and we have another game this week. But Cincinnatus played well. It was a hard-fought game. At the end we kind of got lost, made a defensive mistake and paid.”
“I think we wore them down and started playing together,” Wright said of the game’s latter stages. “We controlled the ball and found the open man, and when we play that way we’re tough.”
Cincy junior halfback Cody Warner hit the crossbar with a shot with 11:50 left in the game, and from that point on it was all Red Lions until sophomore halfback Bryant Loomis controlled the ball in front and passed it to junior halfback Nick Constantino. He in turn got the ball to junior striker Lindley, who sent his first goal of the season home from inside the box on the near left side.
“I guarded my man off, set the ball and kicked it in,” Lindley said. “I figured we’d be able to score, that it was just a matter of time. I was surprised with how well McGraw played; we came out slow and had to pick it up. They did a pretty good job.”
The two teams are rivals to begin with, and Lindley noted that meeting the Eagles with first place at stake “makes it a little more intense. I think our three titles give us a little psychological advantage.”
AFTER THE HOSTS took the lead, McGraw’s last gasp came on a long free kick from just inside midfield by junior defender Wyatt Buerkle that Cincy freshman goalkeeper Tyler Feehan controlled in the waning moments.
“I had hoped to get to the half with the lead and maybe change some things around,” Smith said. “I was going to put Tanner (Emery, a junior) in goal and move out Austin (Chambers, the senior starter in goal) up front for another strong leg. But by the time they scored their second goal there wasn’t enough time.”
As noted, it was McGraw that struck first in the contest as senior midfielder-forward Alex Smith controlled a rebound from a scramble in front of the Cincy net and scored from in close on the left side 10:29 into the game.
It took the Red Lions 2:26 to capitalize, as Constantino scored from the right side on a cross from the opposite side by Lindley, who had in turn had taken a pass from senior halfback Shondel Wright. While the rest of the half was scoreless, Constantino had a near miss when he also banged a shot off the crossbar 20:45 before halftime.
“I went with a 3-4-3 at the beginning, and I think it helped them score,” Leigh Wright said. “When we switched to a 4-4-2 it seemed to solidify our backs.”
“I put (senior midfielder-defender) Chris Moffitt on Jake Stone, their leading scorer; he did a great job of marking him and we played around that,” Cory Smith said. “I told the boys afterwards that the season isn’t over with just because of this loss. They’ve worked hard, and we’ll work on things and keep going.”
Both teams are on the road Friday in 4:30 p.m. starts, Cincy at Stockbridge Valley and McGraw at Brookfield.
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