Boys Soccer Delivered First Loss; PA Defense Surrenders Four Goals

The cold front that passed through Andover Wednesday provided fitting conditions for the Andover Boys Varsity Soccer game, as the visiting Winchendon School put Andover’s four-game winning streak on ice. T. J. Thompson ’06 supplied Andover’s lone goal of the afternoon, but it was not enough to overcome the fierce opposition. Andover went down 3-1 in its first loss of the season. Andover was favored coming into the contest, boasting a 4-0-1 record, and things initially played out accordingly. Andover got off to a quick start and struck first. In the seventeenth minute, Thompson chased the ball down on the left side of the field, almost passing the goalpost. With a quick maneuver, he sliced the ball with his left foot and drove it past the goalie, giving Andover a 1-0 lead. Both teams played aggressively. In the twenty-fifth minute, the referee issued Winchendon a yellow card, and ten minutes later gave one to Andover. Perhaps Andover was thrown off by Winchendon’s unabashed play. Though the home team held on to its lead for most of the first half, ball possession was distributed evenly between the two schools and Andover certainly did not display its usual dominance. The tides took a dramatic turn in the thirty-sixth minute. Winchendon’s offense brought the ball in close to the goal, and several of its players battled with Andover defensemen. Suddenly, a member of the Winchendon team booted the ball out of the chaos toward John Gardner ’08 in goal. He made an excellent save, but the ball bounced right back to the shooter. He recovered and sent a line drive past the now helpless Andover goal keeper. With the game tied at one, Andover fought hard. Just a minute after Winchendon had leveled the score, Rory McCrae ’06 turned a corner kick from Chris Wade ’08 into a shot on goal, but Winchendon’s goalie made a superb block. Andover’s fortune would not change for the rest of the game, and it continued to spiral downward for the remainder of the first half. In the forty-third minute, a Winchendon player bent a corner kick sharply toward the goal. The ball soared over Gardner’s head into the net. The visitors took this 2-1 lead into halftime. Andover continued to battle valiantly in the second half, but Winchendon matched that intensity and applied heavy pressure on both ends of the field. In the fiftieth minute, Winchendon extended its lead. Bringing the ball through a pack of Andover defenders, an opposing player found an opening in the left side of the net and put his team up 3-1. Contrary to most of Andover’s experiences this season, the opponent held the momentum for most of the second half. Though Andover mounted several offensive charges, none of these drives translated into goals. This was largely due to the strong play of Winchendon’s goal keeper. Alex Campbell ’06 said, “We had some nice shots on goal, but none of them managed to get past the Winchendon keeper.” With four minutes remaining, Alex Clifford ’07 dribbled the ball within striking distance, but he missed the shot. Andover’s chances looked grim, and the team was ultimately upset 3-1. The previous Saturday, Andover played Choate Rosemary Hall at home, but darkness forced the coaches to call off the game fifteen minutes into the second half. At the point of suspension, Andover was tied 2-2 and felt confident. Both Captain Mike Spiak ’06 and Clifford scored in the effort, but their contributions went for not, as the game was called before the eightieth minute of play, and no official result was recorded. The Andover Varsity Boys Soccer team looks forward to taking on Harvard JV this Friday at 6PM. Campbell said “ I’m excited to play the Harvard JV because its an opportunity against a non-league opponent to return to the form at which we were playing at the beginning of the season.”