Andover Boys Soccer Guard Undefeated Season, After Sweeping Taft and Bridgton Academy

Co-Captain Zane Matraji ’24 celebrates after scoring against Bridgton Academy.

Co-Captain Zane Matraji ’24 received the ball from a low cross by Co-Captain Ellis Denby ’24 and put Andover on the scoreboard in the team’s game against Taft. Later on in the game, Co-Captain Gio Pagiluca ’23 secured the victory after dribbling through the Taft defense and scoring the second goal of the game. Andover Boys Soccer concluded the game with a 2-0 win against Taft, and then went on to defeat Bridgton Academy (Bridgton) 1-0. The team’s record now stands at 4-0-2

The team played Bridgton on Wednesday in Andover’s stadium, at 6 p.m., under the lights. Denby highlighted the energy of the crowd throughout the game and the feeling it brought to the team.

“[The atmosphere of the game] was great. We had a lot of support. I saw a lot of people in the crowd that I knew which was very exciting for us. I liked how everyone was wearing pink and supporting an important cause which is breast cancer awareness. I just really loved the atmosphere when we scored. It was electric; everyone was going crazy and the second goal was the same thing. And then after the game, everyone started running to the field. It really got the boys going and you could see it in our play,” said Denby.

According to Pagiluca, prior to the game, the team focused on training specifically to address the difficulties that Taft typically imposes upon its opponents. Thus, the team worked on dealing with pressure on the defensive end of the field.

Pagiluca said, “In practice, [we] worked on breaking the press. We knew that Taft is a team that likes to high press our defenders and kind of win the ball off of us. We practiced being able to pass it to defense and break through their pressure.”

According to Pagiluca, one of the main factors in the team’s victory was its constant effort throughout the game. While both teams were technically similar, Andover’s hard work proved to be the difference.

“Our biggest strength, more than anything on Saturday, was our work rate on and off the ball. I think, as a team, everyone on the field worked really hard and pressed hard, were just constantly running their hardest and always fighting for the ball and just everyone brought the energy. Overall, the team focus level was really high and I think that’s what ultimately separated us from Taft,” says Pagiluca.

In the game against Bridgton, the opposition successfully supplied pressure on Andover throughout the first half. However, in the second half, the team began to control the ball more and command the tempo of the game, according to Alex Torrens ’24.

“Our weakness was, overall, the first half. We came out a little slow. It was a little sloppy, we were lacking some intensity, we weren’t really applying what we had worked [on], but then we had a spark in the second half. We started playing with more energy, we started possessing and imposing our style which then led to our victory,” said Torrens. 

Torrens also added that once Andover figured out its opponents main plan of attack, the team was able to take that away and halt Bridgton’s primary path towards goal. 

“Their main attacking points were just through over the top long balls so we were able to just nullify that by sort of trying to anticipate them. They didn’t possess too greatly so we eventually were able to break through that.”

Andover’s next game is on Saturday at Choate.