Boys Soccer Sweeps Belmont Hill in the Season Opener, Meets Its Match Against Milton

Andover Boys Soccer has nine home games this season.

Gio Pagiluca ’23 is co-captiain alongside Zane Matraji ’24 and Ellis Denby ’24.

Co-Captain Ellis Denby ’24 sent a low, driven cross from the 18-yard line straight to Paul Gichana ’25 on the back post, feeding the ball past multiple defenders. Gichana knocked the ball in and scored the first goal in Andover Boys Varsity Soccer’s 5-0 win against Belmont Hill. On Wednesday, the team played a close game at Milton, ending in a 1-1 tie. Its record now stands at 1-1-0.

According to Gichana, the team’s ability to work together in the season opener greatly contributed to its success. With only seven lowerclassmen on this year’s team, Gichana highlighted the chemistry amongst both new and returning players.

“I think last year, we were a really young team, but this year we have more experience with each other, and we also have some new players coming in with us, so that’s really good,” said Gichana. 

Co-Captain Gio Pagliuca ’23 also credited the team’s off-the-ball movement for the victory. Throughout the 90 minutes, the team’s offense moved around consistently, which revealed weaknesses within Belmont Hill’s defensive line. 

“I mean, any game where you score five goals you can say the offense was definitely on top. I thought we were pretty fluid with our movement off the ball. A lot of players were kind of interchanging into positions, moving around all over the pitch, occupying different spaces, so I feel like our movement kind of allowed us to get those five goals,” said Pagliuca.

According to Pagliuca, Gichana’s goal on Saturday wasn’t just the first goal of the game, but also, the first goal of the team’s season. Pagliuca emphasized that starting off strong was important to the team’s mindset for future games.

“Honestly, for me, I’d say the highlight of the game was just the first goal. I think obviously coming into the game everyone is nervous, excited, just a ton of emotions, and just kind of wanting to kick off the season in a positive direction. I think once we got that first goal, early on in the game, it set the tone for not only a positive game, but a positive season,” said Pagliuca. 

Gichana mentioned how crucial goalie Jack Alexander ’25 was against Belmont Hill. Alongside the team’s dominant offense, Alexander’s clean sheet maintained the team’s momentum, according to Gichana. 

“We were up 1-0, and I think the game was fifty-fifty at its best, [but those saves] really made sure that we were in a good position to play,” said Gichana. 

After Saturday’s game, the team wanted to work on maintaining possession and passing the ball well. Elijah Robinson ’25 noted how well the defense played in its game against Milton.

“I think some of our biggest strengths are playing through the middle. I thought we did that pretty well, but we probably need to work on our attacking third. Our defense was pretty sound, we were able to park the bus,” said Robinson. 

In stark contrast to Saturday’s game, Andover was challenged when playing against Milton, as evident in the tie. Though only the second game of the season, Robinson recognized that the team’s energy played a major role in the pace and outcome of the game. 

“At the beginning of the game, it was very fast paced. As it cooled down, they scored, but then we scored a goal later in the half, and our energy went back up for a while, and that was good. In the second half, it was just back and forth. Good energy,” said Robinson. 

Andover Boys Varsity Soccer will play away at Loomis Chaffee on Friday and at Holderness on Wednesday.