NEW BRITAIN - Heavy rain wasnâ€™t going to extinguish the excitement the Bristol Central boys soccer team had to finally be able to play the first game of its season when it traveled to Veterans Stadium to take on New Britain Tuesday afternoon.
Unlike most area teams, the Rams were forced to postpone the first two weeks of their season and quarantine through Oct. 10 after finding out a member of Farmingtonâ€™s boys soccer team tested positive for the coronavirus after the two teams scrimmaged.
â€śThese guys wanted to play,â€ť Bristol Central head coach Nate Jandreau said. â€śThey wouldâ€™ve played in a snowstorm it didnâ€™t really matter. These guys wanted to play all summer, and with the quarantine, they really would have played in anything.â€ť
Facing the 0-2-2 Hurricanes, both teams were in pursuit of their first wins this year, but Central was backed by the fervor of high schoolers who were forced to wait an additional 10 days to begin their season and took home a 3-2 win courtesy of goals scored in the first minute of each half.
â€śOver on the bus we were super excited just to get on the field because last time we were told right before our game we couldnâ€™t play,â€ť Hayden Caudill said. â€śSo just getting on the field felt great.â€ť
Charlie Pittman immediately found space on the left side of the field and fired a hard shot past New Britain goalkeeper Max Szczepnik to open up the scoring 59 seconds into the match, while Caudillâ€™s second goal of the contest gave the Rams a 3-1 lead 20 seconds after halftime ended.
Caudillâ€™s scored after Mark Palma fired a corner kick right along the goal that soared over the outstretched arms of New Szczepnik, which Caudill flew in behind to finish with a header.
â€śI thought Mark Palma did a heck of a job controlling the ball in the middle of the field and then playing out wide,â€ť Jandreau said. â€śI thought Charlie Pittman did a good job up top moving well. We had our two captains who worked really hard, Carson [Rivoira] and Hayden, who were able to mix in runs out of the midfield and then play up top to be dangerous. There are enough guys that can do different things, but I think it was a nice team effort offensively.â€ť
Central controlled possession for the majority of the match as their energy, combined with New Britainâ€™s low energy from playing the pouring rain, was evident from the starting whistle. Szczepnik was challenged early and frequently, which led to 11 saves and three goals allowed, while Rams goalkeeper Matthew Beaucar saw far less action and was only forced to make three saves and let two goals through.
â€śI thought that when we had the ball down the field and possessed it, we looked like we clearly knew what we wanted to do with it and we had a purpose,â€ť Jandreau said. â€śWe kind of got a little sloppy, a little lackadaisical, whether it be the weather or the conditions, we kind of let them back in the game. I thought we had to do a better job finishing, especially in the second half, but if we do that I think weâ€™ll be in really good position.â€ť
While unable to create many opportunities to score throughout the match, the Hurricanes did find the back of the net near the end of each half. Omar Alwishah kept the match competitive before halftime with a goal and Camron Naples started New Britainâ€™s late-game push with the teamâ€™s second goal.
â€śThe opportunities are there, but we arenâ€™t executing the game plan,â€ť Hurricanes head coach Garth Lawrence said. â€śWe are not finishing our chances. When we do get our chances, it goes in. But we have to put more effort into what we do.â€ť
Both teams will play their second game of the week Thursday at 3:45 p.m. when the Rams host Lewis Mills and the Hurricanes host Bristol Eastern.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
BRISTOL CENTRAL 3, NEW BRITAIN 2
At New Britain
Halftime: Bristol Central 2-1.
Goals: Charles Pittman (BC), Hayden Caudill (BC) 2, Omar Alwishah (NB), Camron Naples (NB).
Assists: Mark Palma (BC).
Saves: Matthew Beaucar (BC) 3, Max Szczepnik (NB) 11.
Records: Bristol Central 1-0, New Britain 0-3-2.