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Andover Suffers First Loss of the Season to BB&N

With ten pivotal minutes left, Co-Captain Dylan Mott ’15 slid a pass through the Taft defense to Co-Captain Josh Murphy ’15, who promptly buried it in the near post behind the Taft keeper. Murphy’s goal was his second in the final ten minutes and tied the game at two goals apiece.

The narrow tie highlighted Andover’s resilience and invincibility on Smoyer Field, but the need for the miracle comeback also outlined the team’s trouble with breaking through a press at the same time.

In the first 80 minutes of the game, Taft put pressure on Andover’s back line, which had trouble keeping possession of the ball. The result was a 2-0 Andover deficit for most of the game.

“We cracked under their pressure and let them outwork us for basically 80 minutes of the game,” said Murphy.

After half time, Andover rallied and capitalized on the Taft’s fatigued players. Nearing the end of the game, Head Coach Will Orben made a formation change from a more conservative 4-4-2 formation to an attack-oriented 3-5-2 formation. This more aggressive attacking formation allowed Murphy to move up to left wing, resulting in his game-changing goals.

“We were down two goals, and I was waiting, thinking about how much [of a] risk we wanted to take,” said Orben, who used to be the head coach at Taft before joining the Andover community last year.

The following Monday, Andover traveled to BB&N and suffered a 1-0 loss, its first of the season.

Much like the majority of the Taft game, Andover found itself still struggling to attack and locate the back of the net.

“We just couldn’t get anything going up front. Mott was the go-to man every time, which was asking way too much of him,” said Brandon Girard ’16.

The BB&N goal came off a long and powerful throw-in. Andover left two men open at the far post of the goal, allowing a BB&N attacker to head the ball swiftly in the goal.

The second half did not fare any better for Andover. Many players were tired, which made it hard to boost the attack and even the score.

“We needed energy and focus, which we just didn’t have,” wrote Andy Manos ’16 in an email to The Phillipian.

On Wednesday, Andover took on Bridgton Academy in its third game of the week and matched up against a strong opponent. The team rallied to win 3-1. Andover was able to take the lead early in the game, and the players never looked back. The first goal of the game came from Mott, when he ripped a shot from 20 yards out that deflected off a defender and into the back of the net.

Soon after, Alex Dziadosz ’16 played a ball past the defense to Mott for his second goal of the game. Dziadosz then followed up his strong offense and put a ball to the far post for a third goal assisted by Peder Bakken ’16. All of Andover’s goals came in the first 30 minutes.

Since Andover was facing a bigger and more physical team, it relied heavily on the counter attack.

Later in the game, Bridgton knocked the ball around in front of the Andover net, eventually pinging it into the goalmouth. The half ended with Andover ahead 3-1.

As Bridgton got more desperate for goals late in the game, it kicked up its offensive pressure, yet Andover kept its composure.

“Our defenders had a fantastic game. They were under a lot of pressure, but they kept the team alive,” wrote midfielder Bobby Dahl ’18 in an email to The Phillipian.

Andover looks to keep improving its attack and create more chances near the goal when traveling to Choate this Sunday.