Boys Soccer Shuts Out Two; Ties Choate, Beats Winchendon

The Andover Boys’ Soccer Team’s defense has been an anchor recently, holding opponents scoreless in each of the last two games. On Wednesday, Andover’s offense supported the impenetrable defense, guiding Andover to a 4-0 road win over Winchendon. Zach Dixon ’08 led the charge, scoring two goals in the first half. On Saturday, the offense fought equally hard but was stopped as Andover played to a 0-0 tie at Choate. On Saturday, Andover played a strong game but was unable to convert on a few scoring opportunities. Andover’s defense remained strong and held off opposing offensive drives. Choate, however, never let down its guard on defense, either. Andover came out playing with intensity from the beginning. Choate matched that attitude and battled for every ball. Choate played physical soccer, and Andover’s defense worked hard to keep them at bay. “Our defense knew [Choate] would be physical, and [the Andover defense] played really well,” said Jason Zhu ’07. With the support of this defense, Andover’s offense played with extra confidence. In fact, Andover seemed to have the upper hand for most of the contest. It had numerous offensive drives, while Choate’s chances on goal were kept to a minimum. Frustratingly, Andover could not get the ball in the net. It had a few notable chances, however. At one point, A.J. Charles ’07 went shoulder-to-shoulder with an opposing player in contention for the ball. Charles maintained possession and scored, but the referees called Charles for a foul and called the goal back. Later, Morgan Griff ’07 took a shot on goal. He took the ball from the middle of the field and booted a shot but was rejected as the ball bounced off the crossbar. In addition to this shot, Griff performed well for Andover on offense. Playing center-midfield, he used his height to control the ball aerially. He fought frequently and successfully for headers. Even though Andover seemed to be in control of the game, it was unable to translate this advantage to victory and tied 0-0. “[The Choate players] were lucky to come away with a tie,” said Zhu. In Wednesday’s match-up with Winchendon, Andover’s defense remained strong, and the offense—guided by Dixon—capitalized on several scoring opportunities, leading to the 4-0 win. Andover was hungry for a win after two consecutive scoreless ties. Having lost to Winchendon last year, Andover’s returning players had additional motivation for victory. Andover converted this desire into high-level play. The team started out strong and kept up the tempo for the remainder of the contest. At the beginning, both sides were on the attack. The ball changed hands frequently, and the players fought hard. Winchendon had several talented individuals. On offensive drives, these players would bring the ball down the field by themselves, only to lose possession among Andover defenders. “Even though [some of Winchendon’s players] had a lot skill, they didn’t combine well,” said Zhu. Dixon gave Andover the edge, however, by scoring twice. The unanswered goals gave Andover momentum. “The second goal really turned it on for us,” said Zhu. Andover took the 2-0 lead and the psychological advantage to halftime. When the team took the field for the second half, it maintained the intensity. The defense turned Winchendon away, while Andover’s offense continued to drive. Andover scored two goals early in the second half, one of which came from Garnet Hathaway ’10. This 4-0 lead gave Andover a sense of security and put Winchendon in an intimidating hole. Winchendon kept up its offensive efforts but was foiled overall by the cohesive Andover team.