Leonardtown soccer teams sweep twinbill
Boys soccer edges Gonzaga, girls get past Bel Air
The Leonardtown soccer teams each passed tough tests as the boys and girls squads swept a doubleheader Tuesday night.
Maddie Bridgwater scored both goals, including the eventual game-winner in the 74th minute, as the girls posted a 2-1 win over Bel Air of Harford County.
“Bel Air’s a quality team and it was great competition for us tonight,” said Leonardtown head coach Jennifer Henderson, whose team dropped two matches to tough teams at a tournament at Sparrows Point last weekend. “They’re learning to play together and we’ve had a very competitive start in terms of the competition we’ve played and I think that’s good experience that will only make us stronger.”
In the boys game, Aaron Choo scored in the 68th minute to power the boys to a 3-2 win over Gonzaga of Washington, D.C.
“When you play that quality of an opponent it exposes your weaknesses, so that was the best part for us because it allowed us to reflect on things that we needed to work on,” said Leonardtown head coach Dave Holland, whose team split two games at last weekend’s Catonsville Tournament. “These are the kinds of games that will prepare us for down the road.”
In the boys game, the Raiders (3-1 overall) held a two-goal lead on goals by Nik Kokolios (29th minute) and Jacob Breslauer (43rd), but Gonzaga stormed back to tie the game.
Six minutes after Breslauer’s tally, Gonzaga pulled to within a goal on Ryan Teuschel’s tap-in and tied the game on Aus- tin Smith’s penalty kick in the 64th minute.
But just four minutes later, Leonardtown’s Diontre Barnes sent a ball into the box and Choo converted.
“Diontre took a shot with his left foot and it was going to go to the goalkeeper,” said Choo, a senior in his first year with the team, “but I took a flick with my left [foot] and into the corner of the net. It’s amazing for the school and for the team.”
The game was the first of the season Choo had played at forward, and Holland appears to have found a new striker.
“He puts relentless pressure on the other teams’ defense and he wants to score goals, so he has a nose for the ball and he puts pressure on the defense hoping to get a little flick or touch and he’s in,” Holland said. “And that’s
what you want your strikers to do [and] I think he’s more comfortable at that spot.”
The Eagles (1-4-1) have scored five goals in their last two games after netting just one in their first four games.
“It is a good gauge, but we have to learn how to put the ball in the net,” said Gonzaga head coach Scott Waller, who started four sophomores. “We made some adjustments and I think we did really well in the second half dominating the play. We just didn’t put the ball in the net and that’s crucial. That’s how games are won or lost, it’s not how long you have the ball or how well you pass the ball.”
“I thought the intensity was there from beginning to end, we just lacked that finishing touch,” said Teuschel, a senior. “The ball was in our attacking half for most of the game, just every once in a while you have a game where you can’t put it away.”
T.J. Landrum made seven saves for Leonardtown, while Gonzaga goalie Nick Gerlach, who will play at NCAA Division I Colgate next year, made six.
“The big thing tonight was winning 50-50 balls and to go aggressively to the ball, which we weren’t doing this [past] weekend, but we did it tonight,” said Holland, who added he wasn’t worried about losing the two-goal lead against Gonzaga. “When you’re playing a quality opponent a one-goal lead or two-goal is not safe. It’s for us to fight back and they put pressure on us and we responded.”
Girls night out
The Leonardtown girls kicked off the doubleheader with a tough contest against the Bobcats, whom the Raiders defeated 3-2 in overtime last year.
“It was a team effort and I’m really happy with the intensity everyone showed tonight,” said Bridgwater, a junior. “We’ve been practicing really hard and I’m just happy we all came together. There is room for improvement, but we’re working really hard in practice so I can’t ask for more.”
Despite a slow start in which Bel Air had numerous scoring chances, it was Leonardtown which struck first in the 23rd minute when Bridgwater’s shot found the far side.
The Bobcats (2-2) tied the game in the final moments of the first half when Lauren Asher drove a ball past Raiders goalkeeper Madison Insley, who finished the game with six saves.
But with less than 10 minutes remaining, a shot skipped past Bel Air goalkeeper Jill Kozak and Bridgwater dribbled down the right side and, just a few yards from the end line, sent a sharply-angled shot into the mesh.
“I think we did come out a little flat,” Henderson said. “We knew it was going to be a very intense match and fortunately the girls picked it up as they played. Obviously we need to be able to come out strong from the kickoff, so that’s definitely something we need to address, but we knew it was going to be an intense match.”
The girls are scheduled to host undefeated Huntingtown in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division showdown on Monday, while the boys are slated to travel to Thomas Stone tonight and to Huntingtown on Monday. All contests are scheduled for 6 p.m.
Leonardtown’s Aaron Choo, pictured here chasing a loose ball down the sidelines, scored the eventual winning goal in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Gonzaga.