Following Ellis Denby’s ’24 free-kick that deflected off a High Mowing defender, Aldiyar Zhumashov ’22 scored, tying the game at 1-1. Andover Boys Soccer could not build on this equalizer, however, and finished deadlocked in its scrimmage against High Mowing on Wednesday. Andover found more success in their previous match on Friday against St. Paul’s, winning 3-0. Boys Soccer now sits at a 4-3-2 record.
According to Zane Matraji ’24, the team spent its practices fixing weaknesses leading up to the St. Paul’s game. The team focused on possessing the ball as well as its spacing on the field.
Matraji said, “We knew that [St. Paul’s] was a good team, but that they were also struggling. We were in fine form thanks to our past two wins and had positive momentum to keep us going. As long as we had kept that up, a win was expected. During practice, we continued to focus on movement off of the ball during practice. This was rooted in our mistakes from last week, and the season as a whole. A big thing that we wanted to emphasize was possessing, and the best way to do that is to create space off of the ball for the guy on the ball.”
Matraji added that the team displayed lively emotion throughout the game and worked as a team to score hard-earned goals.
“We showed great spirit. Soccer is a very emotional game, and when times get hard, it’s important that the team is able to escape deficits with good spirits and control these emotions. We had a lot of displays of individual talent but also worked well as a cohesive unit. We had three brilliant solo goals [against St. Paul’s]. Two of which were well-placed free kicks, and the third was a chip towards the end of the game to finish it off. I think that the way we practice is the way we play, and our keeping of high intensity was reflected during the game,” said Matraji.
Following the victory against St. Pauls, Andover continued to focus on positioning, according to Zhumashov. He added that the team also began working on formations to counter High Mowing and has begun planning for Northfield Mount Hermon on Saturday.
Zhumashov said, “We worked on positioning and playing from the back. We tried to come up with a strategy against this team’s positioning and style of play, as well as [Northfield Mount Hermon’s]. We did this to practice getting the ball to the defense and setting up attacks to score. We also did some [passing and] shooting drills, as we haven’t been scoring as much as [we would like] this season.”
After the draw against High Mowing, Zhumashov noted that Andover overcame setbacks in the tightly-contested match, but soon found its rhythm.
“We found that, in the second half, we came on strong. We pressured them and came with an energy that we didn’t have in the first half. We were ready to play. This was not a league game, but it was a game that was going to prepare us for Saturday against NMH, which is a top-ranked team. High Mowing is a team that is at the same level as NMH, whom they tied. They also played and beat Worcester, which are two of the best teams. The [effort we showed on Wednesday] is the type of effort which we will need to have on Saturday, so today we were trying to show [that]. We played well and showed everyone that we can play against the best teams and win everything. We just have to play as a team,” said Zhumashov.
Andover faces NMH on Saturday in a big Family Weekend matchup at home and will play Cushing on Wednesday.