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Eagles land 1-2 punch on Goretti

August 26, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

St. Maria Goretti's boys soccer team found out on Thursday just how many games it takes for a season to turn into a roller-coaster ride.

Two.

Coming off an impressive 5-2 victory in their opener at Martinsburg on Tuesday, the Gaels had another Eastern Panhandle team on the ropes after 40 minutes. But Hedgesville senior Eli Griffin scored twice in the first 15 minutes of the second half, and the Eagles opened their season with a 2-1 victory.

"We were very afraid of coming out flat today after putting together a great effort Tuesday night," Goretti coach Mike Long said. "We really feel we have a great opportunity this year, but we were flat today. We were on our heels and our communication was flat.

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"After the match on Tuesday, I only found one thing to talk about and that might have hurt us. We expected to play like that again."

Thursday's Apple Valley League contest was hardly a one-sided affair - Goretti (1-1, 1-1) finished with a 19-17 edge in shots in a match that, due to the Gaels' short and rock-hard field, moved from one end to the other at a staggering pace, with neither side maintaining an attack for more than a couple minutes at a time.

"As far as possession goes, this field doesn't lend itself to it," Eagles coach Chris Ruest said. "Everything has to be 1-2 touches. Fortunately, in the second half we were able to put some 1-2 touches together."

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Griffin - the top attack option in the middle of Hedgesville's front line - was in the right place at the right time in the 47th minute, pouncing on a loose ball in the 18-yard box that eluded several Goretti defenders and striking it past Gaels keeper Kevin Brashears for the tie.

"The ball was just bouncing all over the place, and everybody was swinging and missing," Griffin said. "I just got a lucky touch on it. ... It helped everybody see we could get back in this game."

Six minutes later, Hedgesville took the lead on a perfectly executed counterattack up the middle by Griffin and midfielder Luis Alaniz. Alaniz dribbled the ball a good 40 yards before finding Griffin making his run, and Griffin finished it easily.

"We set up a good 1-2 in the middle," Griffin said. "We're pretty fast up front, so we can (execute) that."

The Gaels outshot the Eagles 10-6 after falling behind, but managed to get just one of the 10 on goal - and Adam Eifert made that save easily. Paul Winslow's near-miss over the crossbar was Goretti's best chance.

Sophomore Joe Dumpe gave Goretti a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute, capitalizing on Eifert's failure to cleanly grab a loose ball in front of the goal.

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