Sports

Pony boys soccer knocks off No. 2 Winslow

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WATERVILLE — The Foxcroft Academy boys soccer team took another huge step in the playoffs by upsetting the second-seeded Winslow Black Raiders 2-1 in a Class B North quarterfinal on Wednesday, Oct. 30. The teams played under the lights at the campus of Thomas College.

“Being here before and playing on this turf field helped us calm our nerves for this game,” Foxcroft head coach Luis Ayala said. The Ponies started the playoff journey by upsetting the No. 7 Waterville High School the previous Saturday on the same field.

Foxcroft showed no signs of nervousness as the team stepped up to the challenge against a fast and quick Black Raider team. “We got a good scouting report on them and knew what formation they played and their key players,” Ayala said. “The biggest challenge was whether we could match up with their speed.”

Foxcroft Winslow soccer

Contributed photo
KEY TO VICTORY — The Foxcroft Academy boys soccer team upset No. 2 Winslow on Oct. 30 at Thomas College in Waterville in large part to the defense including, from left, junior fullbacks AJ Atkinson and Barrett Knapp, junior sweeper Lucas Ronco, and sophomore stopper Jacob Reed.

The Ponies struck first as sophomore Michael Wang received a pass from junior Isaac Drury 20 yards out in front of the goal. Wang quickly settled the ball and took a shot outside the penalty box that beat the keeper to give Foxcroft a 1-0 lead with 18 minutes to go in the half.

“Play was even early on, we both had chances. We knew they were marking our main forward (senior) Shadane Hamilton.” Ayala said. “That means that it will open up things for other guys to score.”

The mark of a great player is to use what the other team is giving you and Hamilton did just that. Knowing that he was going to be marked all game long Hamilon used his teammates to help his team win. He received a ball from the midfield and as soon as he dribbled he found himself being surrounded by the three Winslow defenders.

Quickly Hamilton passed the ball to a streaking teammate running to his right. Junior Alexis Fidalgo took the pass and got into the penalty box. On his next touch he shot a low ball to beat the keeper to the nearside post to give the Ponies a 2-0 lead with six minutes left in the half.

Winslow never gave up and with two minutes to go the team finally scored to make it 2-1 at halftime. “We needed that halftime break” Ayala said, “We needed to regroup and stop their momentum and that was probably the best thing that could have happened for us.”

In the second half Winslow continued with its pressure and where getting opportunities to score. “We have worked hard all season to maintain our conditioning and to play team defense,” Ayala said, “That helped us out tonight.”

Winslow had more opportunities to score than Foxcroft but the Black Raiders could not get quality shots. The team was taking shots that were too far out, or crosses that ended up in the hands of the Pony keeper.

“Everyone was coming back and putting pressure on the ball and making them rush their shots,” Ayala said, “We loaded the middle with our midfielders and that gave them bad shots.”

Foxcroft seemed comfortable playing with a 1-goal lead. The team just continued to frustrate Winslow’s forwards. With 10 minutes to go the Black Raiders kept making runs but with no results.

“Give credit to our defense,” Ayala said. “We came in with a game plan to shut down their best player and they did just that. Sweeper (junior) Lucas Ronco and stopper (sophomore) Jacob Reed really stepped up for us tonight. And our keeper (junior) Mikel Alvarez had another stellar performance in the net.”

Foxcroft (9-7-0) will continue its tournament in the semifinal round at No. 3 Mount Desert Island High School.

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