By David Miles, Sports Correspondent
For one half, the Woodstock boys soccer team tried Leland and Gray’s physical style of play. Then the Wasps knocked them out.
Woodstock beat the Rebels 4-1 on Thursday at home, despite a rough-and-tumble first half where the Wasps managed just a 1-0 lead.
“We expected a physical game and we got it,” said coach Tom Avellino. “Our scouting report was spot on.”
The physical play may have worked to the visiting Rebels’ advantage for a while.
“We got of to kind of a shaky start,” said sophomore Curran MacDonald. “We played physical with them, but we didn’t get into our game of small ball, short passes and controlling midfield until later in the first half.”
Indeed there were few scoring opportunities for either team in the opening half. With only about five minutes remaining until intermission the ball suddenly appeared in front of Griffin Balser in front of the goal. With the goalie out of position, the sophomore midfielder easily struck it home.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Balser. “And their goalkeep wasn’t. All I had to do was direct it in.”
There was more action in the second half – and very early on too. Less than 30 seconds into the half, Dougie Avellino directed a centering pass right across the goalmouth. When it was redirected by the Rebel goalie, it went right to Connor McCarthy whose blast deflected off a defender and into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
After Leland and Gray sliced the lead in half, with a goal off a direct kick, the Wasps built their lead back to two when Alex Crompton scored off a penalty kick, driving the ball into the lower right corner of the net. The kick came as the result of a hand ball call following a strong corner kick from Avellino.
Even with a two-goal lead the game was never completely in hand. The visitors had a penalty kick of their own with 14 minutes remaining, but goalie Connor Fegard snuffed out that chance.
Finally with 2:41 remaining, Woodstock put the game away. Ben Orr made a good long throw in that Crompton headed over to Avellino who kicked it in. Goal Avellino. Assist Crompton,
“We finished better in the second half. We probably played too much their style in the first half,” said coach Avellino. “Our intensity was better as the game went on too.
We don’t want to start so flat. We’re in a busy stretch of the schedule with games almost every other day.”
The Wasps (6-0) face Hartford on the road Saturday, then play Proctor at home Monday at 4 p.m.
(All photos provided by Kathy Avellino)