Andover Dribbles Its Way Back on Track After First Loss of the Season

Frustrated from its first loss on Saturday to NMH, Andover Boys Soccer bounced back with two wins at home over St. John’s Prep and Cushing Academy.

Andover’s bout with St. John’s Prep ended in a close 4-3 victory before the team went on to secure a decisive 2-0 win over Cushing.

Two goals from Taylor Chin ’14, one from J.S. Dackiw ’14 and one from Kene Adigwe ’14 gave Andover the win against St. John’s Prep.

Andover’s defense, however, allowed three goals against both St. John’s and NMH. Before this week, Andover had never allowed more than two goals to any opponent.

When Andover traveled to NMH, the team knew the game would be a battle. NMH scored its first goal in the middle of the first half, and Andover crumbled. NMH went on to score one more goal in the first half and another in the second half.

“We’re not used to being scored on, so when NMH put one away in the first half we were stunned. They outplayed us because we gave them too much space in the midfield and didn’t pressure enough. It’s a tough result for us for sure, but it also has forced us to put things in perspective and turn this season in the right direction,” said Chin.

Against Cushing, Andover got off to a strong start in the first half by playing two-touch soccer very effectively. As a result, Cushing’s defense struggled to stop Andover’s quick and smart attacks.

“We [were] definitely struggling to find team unity,” said Graeme Henderson ’14. “We [wanted] to go into the Cushing game with our attitudes focused toward helping one another. We [were] looking forward to beating Cushing and getting back on track.”

Andover’s first real scoring opportunity came when the team was awarded a free kick. DiStefano took the kick and quickly lobbed the ball past Cushing’s defense, providing Dylan Mott ’15 with a perfect scoring opportunity. Mott struck the ball into the lower corner of the net, giving Andover a 1-0 lead.

The defense also played very well, as it executed an effective zonal-system and recorded yet another shutout.

“[Cushing was] fast and technical, but we ran harder and played faster than they were capable of,” said DiStefano.

After the goal, Andover changed gears and focused on defending in order to protect the lead and conserve energy for the second half.

Andover’s defense completely took over the game in the second half, recording many steals and successful tackles throughout the half. Cushing struggled to get past Andover’s solid back line.

The second and final goal of the game came when James McLeod ’13 gained separation from his defender just wide of the 18 yard box. With some skillful footwork and dribbling, he beat the final defender and blasted a shot past the keeper.

“We knew that we had to add an insurance goal to seal the deal, so I was just thinking about what I, as an individual, could do to help the team put the game away […] I was fortunate enough to be in a position to take the ball to the net and solidify our win for the team,” said McLeod.

“After [McLeod’s] goal, Cushing was desperately trying to get forward, but all of their attacks were futile,” said DiStefano.

Andover was able to continue its strong play and finish the game unscathed.

“We worked very well as a team, which is what wasn’t happening during the past two games [against NMH and St. John’s]. [If anything], we just need to improve on winning balls in the air… We just need to grow on being consistent throughout the whole game for next time,” said Mott.

The team will have a chance to build off of this success when it plays Deerfield Academy at home this Saturday.