Andover Boys Soccer Drops Season Opener Vs Brooks

In the days leading up to the start of their season, the PA Boys Varsity Soccer Team gathered together before Coach Scott. “Just give us your best,” he said. “If you give us your best, good things will happen. Together, we’ll make some noise.” On Wednesday, the boys gave their best, and they certainly made some noise. The team opened their 2003 campaign against a favored Brooks squad, a team that sported key players whose soccer experience stretched to the regional and even national levels. PA rolled into the contest riding a wave of confidence from last year’s 9-0-2 finish and strong Senior leadership from Co-captains David Sheldon ’04 and Carey Hynes ’04. Sheldon joined Steve Russell ’04, Brent Vale ’04, Knef King ’04, and goalkeeper Brendan McManus ’05 to hold down the Big Blue defense. In the midfield and up front, Callum Thomas ’04, Chris Walters ’04, Nate Scott ’05, goal machines Kirk Lepke ’04 and Ben Hoerner ’05, and the ’06 Fab Four of Mike Spiak, TJ Thompson, Justin Wu and Pumi Maqubela fueled the Big Blue attack. On Brooks turf and against the odds, this team made a resounding sound that was not reflected by the final score. From the first whistle, any spectator could tell the game was going to be a classic. The first 20 minutes were filled with early-game excitement, hard challenges and blazing shots. PA and Brooks traded blow for blow as a Brooks defender took down Spiak from behind, only to see the favor returned as McManus laid out a Brooks forward challenging high for a crossed ball. Amidst the physical play, Brooks repeatedly utilized their offensive firepower, driving their midfielders and forwards up field to try to cut straight through the heart of the Blue defense. However, the Blue backs, led by Sheldon, held strong. Sheldon was given the tall task of shadowing Brooks all-star striker Charlie Davies ’04 everywhere he went, sticking to his every move. Sheldon performed brilliantly. Russell, Vale, and Walters, who started out at left back before moving to midfield, continuously turned away shot after shot in the first half, but Brooks just kept coming. The Green caught their only break in the final moments of the first half, when a Brooks midfielder played a brilliant ball over the top of the Blue backs, allowing Davies to somehow get through the defense and deftly power the ball into the side netting. At the half, 1-0 Brooks. The Blue responded in the second half with renewed vigor. Led by Callum, the Blue midfield and forwards dominated play. With Thomas, Wu, and Pumi in the middle and Spiak, Thompson and Hoerner up top, Brooks fell back on its heels. Callum led the charge, spreading the ball left and right and dribbling through one defender after another, making it look easy. From the back, King, Vale and Russell continued to hit long balls deep into Green territory. On the other end of the field, Sheldon had put the sleeper hold on Davies. Sheldon denied the Brooks star another chance to hit the back of the net and increase the Green’s lead. Yet, deep into the second half, the Blue still were looking for their goal. “It will come,” said Coach Scott. “Keep working hard, and it will come.” However, when the final whistle blew, the PA attackers had blasted strikes, headers, and volleys all over the penalty area, yet somehow none had found the back of the net. “That’s soccer,” noted defender Nate Kellogg ’05. “That’s the way it goes sometimes.” Though it was a frustrating and hard-fought loss, this one seemed strangely positive. Why? “The second half was ours,” said Callum. “We dominated play.” Indeed, the boys soccer team worked so hard they deserved to win, and Brooks knew it. Now that’s making some noise.