Boys Varsity Soccer Plays Intrasquad Scrimmage

On a wet, freezing, not-so-soccer-friendly Friday afternoon, the Boys Varsity Soccer team split into two teams (black jerseys versus white jerseys) and battled in an intrasquad scrimmage.

On a wet, freezing, not-so-soccer-friendly Friday afternoon, the Boys Varsity Soccer team split into two teams (black jerseys versus white jerseys) and battled in an intrasquad scrimmage. Usually, on Parents Weekend, the soccer team features a game against a rival, yet due to Covid-19 restrictions, those plans were pushed aside. Though fans off-campus were unable to attend (note: Lawrentians on-campus were allowed to show up, but few did, including the one and only Mathematics Teacher Ian Mook and a few faculty members), the athletic department still broadcasted the matchup for parents and off-campus members of the Lawrenceville community.

As the whistle signaled kick-off, the white team started the game with ball possession, but the black team collectively pressured the white team, displaying solid teamwork, composure, and great promise for the scrimmage’s remainder. Throughout the match, the game-changing difference was in the black team’s ability to turn the white team’s errors into their advantage through counter-attacks and smart possession in the build-up. The white team attempted to retaliate through passing combinations and quick movements around the right-hand and left-hand wings, albeit with less success than the black team.

Only eight minutes into the game, Manoc Joa-Griffith ’22 scored the first goal, played in with a beautiful through-ball from Kevin Chiang ’23. Perhaps goalkeeper white team goalkeeper Luke McDonough ’22 could have stepped up to take the ball out of bounds, but all credit goes to the black team.

A third of the way through the game, the rain stopped, but the goals only continued. Spencer Lee ’21, a third-year Varsity member, whipped the ball in from a corner kick, which landed in the middle of the box. Sacha Hood ’24 was in the right place at the right time and tapped the ball in through McDonough’s legs, increasing the black team’s lead to two. For the rest of the first half, the black team maintained the majority of possession and stifled any white counterattacks.

As the whistle blew to signal the second half’s start, the black team continued their thirst for goals while the white team prepared to bounce back and level the scoreboard. Ten minutes in, Mattew Kutam ’22 blocked an attempted pass from Harrison Berger ’22 into the feet of Hood, who once again positioned himself conveniently. Without hesitation, Hood slid the ball back to Kutam, who netted the third goal for the black team.

The going got worse for the white team minutes later when a long ball down the left-hand lane from Gage Urbach ’22 found the feet of Joa-Griffith. Though Ryan Mitsch ’23 initially dispossessed Joa-Griffith, a weak clearance from Mitsch saw Joa-Griffith regain control, chipping the ball over goalkeeper Liam Flynn ’23 (goalkeepers switched teams during half-time). By this point, Joa-Griffith’s performance was Man of the Match worthy.

With 15 minutes remaining, the white team finally seized the opportunity to score, following a controversial decision from the referee, Dean of Students Blake Eldridge ’96 H’12, who gave a penalty to the black team. The word on the street is that the referee might have called a handball on Gabe Gaw ’21, but looking back at the game footage, I don’t see where the ball made contact with Gaw’s hand. Either referee Eldridge needs to pay a quick visit to a nearby optometrist, or he was secretly on the white team’s side the whole time––probably the latter. Nonetheless, Marcos Malacena ’21 confidently stepped up for the penalty and fired the ball into the bottom right corner, making the score 4-1 black team.

However, off the following kickoff, Nate Rygh ’21 from the black team swirled a ball down the right-hand side to Chiang, but while Flynn denied Chiang’s initial shot on target, Alex Yoon ’21 followed the rebound and put the game to bed by netting the black team’s fifth. Despite facing a large deficit, the white team fought on, and with 12 minutes remaining, a beautifully threaded through ball from Berger to the feet of Rayce Welborne ’24 allowed Welborne to score the white team’s second goal with a first-touch finish––sensational work from the newcomer. After 80 minutes of intense play, the scoreboard displayed 6-2 to the black team.

Overall, despite the unpleasant weather conditions, the scrimmage afforded the squad a competitive environment and a chance to get a feel for one another in preparation for the 2020-21 season. Most importantly, a huge shoutout to Coaches Eldridge, Sean Dory, and George Negroponte for refereeing the game, Equipment Manager Brain Millen H’14 for organizing the uniforms, and Dean of Athletics Tripp Welborne H’58 P’21’23 and Associate Director of Athletics Nicole Stock for setting up the stream!

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