Boys Soccer Comeback Falls Just Short to Hotchkiss

Right off the opening whistle of the heavily anticipated Boys Varsity Soccer match against The Hotchkiss School last Saturday, it became apparent that the match would be a fast-paced affair with plenty of chances at both ends of the field.

Right off the opening whistle of the heavily anticipated Boys Varsity Soccer match against The Hotchkiss School last Saturday, it became apparent that the match would be a fast-paced affair with plenty of chances at both ends of the field. Hotchkiss accumulated a slew of chances following kickoff, creating two opportunities inside the 18-yard box, one of which required center back Gabe Gaw ’21 to stab his leg out on a goal-line clearance. After a pair of Hotchkiss corners, Lawrenceville counter-attacked effectively, progressing the ball to Co-Captain, striker Will Murray ’21, who struck a low shot wide of the goal eight minutes into the first half. Not long after the missed opportunity, Spencer Lee ’21 threaded a ball through to Xavier Lacoste ’20, who missed wide to the left.

Hotchkiss withstood this Lawrenceville offensive spell and quickly transitioned play into its quick-footed attacking triumvirate, forcing two one-on-one saves from goalkeeper Liam Flynn ’23 on consecutive Hotchkiss progressions. Ben Wilcox ’20 provided Lawrenceville’s next major chance, delivering a one-time cross from right-back for winger Mac Dilatush ’21 in the middle of the Hotchkiss defense, heading it wide to the right. With both sides having their fair shares of scoring chances, Wilcox ensured the half ended 0-0 stopping a Hotchkiss counterattack with an aggressive slide tackle. After a choppy ten minutes of play into the second half, a Hotchkiss forward dribbled through to the touchline and laid the ball back to an oncoming teammate at the top of the box, who opened the scoring with a first-time shot into the top-right corner of the goal. Following the goal, Lawrenceville had yet another scoring opportunity as Alex Shetye ’20 received a cross to the back post, volleying it to the near post, leading to a comfortable save by the goalkeeper. Not long after the first goal, Flynn then rushed out of goal to handle a Hotchkiss long pass over the top but failed to fully clear the ball, leaving Hotchkiss an open goal to add to its lead 15 minutes into the second half. Being two goals down, Lawrenceville attacked relentlessly, creating many chances yet without a breakthrough. With 17 minutes left in the match, the Hotchkiss right wing-back ran onto a second ball and crossed it on a dangerous diagonal back into the box, allowing a Hotchkiss attacker the opportunity to head the ball from close range, scoring Hotchkiss’s third in 15 minutes.

Facing a three-goal deficit, Lawrenceville shifted up a gear in speed and intensity to finish the match. Receiving a pass into the box from Co-Captain Tait Mott ’20, Murray drew a foul and Lawrenceville was awarded a penalty, which Lacoste struck powerfully into the lower-left corner. Building off of new-found momentum, Lawrenceville attacked in numbers, ultimately opening a lane for Murray to dribble through two Hotchkiss defenders and force a one-on-one with the Hotchkiss keeper. Despite the keeper saving the initial shot, the ball was parried back into Murray’s path, who capitalized on the exposed goal to cut the deficit down to one goal. While Lawrenceville played at full pace for the remaining five minutes, the spacing of Hotchkiss’s defense remained tight, preventing Lawrenceville from forcing open any gaps in the center of the field. Despite bombarding the Hotchkiss box with a succession of free-kicks and corners, Lawrenceville could not find a way through, and the match finished 3-2 in Hotchkiss’ favor.

Neither team maintained possession of the ball particularly well throughout the match, typically relying on long-pass-heavy counterattacks to send the ball towards their respective forward lines. Hotchkiss made the difference by allowing the Lawrenceville midfield slightly more time possession, drawing one or both of the Lawrenceville fullbacks higher up the field, then quickly hitting long passes to one of its three forwards, causing plenty of favorable three-on-two and three-on-three situations. Mott reflected positively on the match, stating that “the surge at the end [of the match] really showed promise for how dangerous [the] team can be at any part of the game.” Likewise, Murray stated the team’s capacity to come back and score two goals “proved that [the team] can fight back and be competitive even at moments where it seems impossible.” Lawrenceville did create a handful of promising chances, giving the team ample confidence going into upcoming games. This past Wednesday, the team played at Malvern Preparatory School, and it will face off against Choate Rosemary Hall this Saturday for the annual Choate Day.

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