The Andover Boys Varsity Soccer team suffered a crushing 2-1 loss to archrival Exeter on Saturday. Neither team scored after the seventeenth minute, and Exeter’s early attacks provided enough offense to secure the 2-1 win. Andover traveled to Exeter and added another thrilling installment to the traditionally competitive rivalry. While Andover took the field, throngs of supporters squeezed into the bleachers and filled the chilly air with their enthusiastic chants. Though the cheers of Andover’s supporters initially drowned out those of Exeter’s fans, a different scene unfolded on the field. In the early stages, the two teams were evenly matched and fought mightily for the ball, but the equality did not last. All of a sudden, in the seventh minute, Exeter found a hole in Andover’s defense and took a 1-0 lead. Bursting through several defenders, Exeter’s players executed a quick series of passes. About six yards away from the goal, an Exeter player snuck around net minder John Gardner ’08 and lofted the ball to the upper left corner of the goal. Hungry for a goal of its own, Andover continued to match Exeter’s effort and the exchanges of possession continued. But after a few more minutes, Exeter took control and went on the offensive. Exeter struck again in the sixteenth minute. On a corner kick, an Exeter player sent the ball spiraling in toward the net. As the ball slipped past defenders, Gardner charged out of goal and tried to grab it. But a member of the Exeter offense beat him to it and knocked the ball in on the ground, putting his team up 2-0. Andover bounced back and got on the board just a minute later. The Andover offense brought the ball down the field and lofted it ahead to Rory McCrae ’06, who was closing in on the goalie’s box. McCrae leapt into the air and sent a header toward the net, but it deflected off an Exeter defenseman. Ever alert, McCrae intercepted the ball and guided it into the right corner of the goal. Andover had narrowed the deficit but still trailed 2-1. Andover kept up the intensity for the remainder of the half and made several offensive pushes. In the twentieth minute, McCrae and T.J. Thompson ’06 battled ferociously with Exeter defensemen and were rejected twice. In the twenty-fifth minute, Joey Mensah ’08 dribbled the ball down the left side of the field, but his shot missed wide. Andover seemed to have the upper hand at times but was never able to convert. Andover entered the second half still down 2-1. Both sides continued to fight hard, but the tension did not initially seem as high as in earlier stages. The two teams relied primarily on their respective defenses to control the tempo. For Andover, both Pumi Maqubela ’06 and Mike Donelan ’08 stood out with their ability to turn around Exeter drives on goal. As time wore on in the second half, and neither team scored, the tension returned to its previous intensity. In the final minutes of the game, Andover played with particular tenacity, realizing its playoff hopes were in danger. In the final seconds of stoppage time, Jason Zhu ’07 laid a drive in and Thompson leapt to meet it with his forehead, but the Exeter defense cleared the ball out. The final whistle blew shortly thereafter, and Exeter secured the 2-1 victory.