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vs. Northfield Mount Hermon
|Date:||September 27, 2017|
Northfield Mt. Hermon Escapes with Win
Northfield Mt. Hermon visited Salisbury on Wednesday afternoon in the Knights’ first home game of the young season and escaped with a 2-1 win. In bouncing back from a 3-1 loss to Worcester on Sunday, NMH (3-1) dominated every element of the game and showed a deft touch-passing attack that set up a number of quality scoring opportunities throughout the game. Salisbury (1-4) crossed midfield far less frequently than their opponent. Long, arcing passes off Knights’ feet were headed by the Hogger back-line out of the final third of the field, denying the Knights very few close-in chances and often setting up a rapid transition attack for the visitors.
The scoreboard, however, told a different story. Despite the imbalance in play – the Hoggers dominated 50/50 balls as well and demonstrated effective tackling in repeatedly stripping the ball from Salisbury players – the first half ended in a scoreless tie. What is more, six minutes into the second half, Thomas Yegbor put the Knights on the board first, converting a free kick from 35 yards out and to the right of the Hogger net, giving Salisbury a 1-0 lead at 39:23. “Thomas hit a bent missile left-to-right over the [defenders’] wall,” varsity coach Ben Walsh said appreciatively. “Top shelf cheddar.”
NMH continued to knock on the door as they had done since the opening moments, when a set play off the kick-off resulted in an excellent opportunity on the left side of the Salisbury box. At 21:34 of the first half, Jonah Anderson dove to is right to turn aside a shot, but the ball ended up on the foot of a Hogger 5 yards out and facing an empty net. Improbably, his shot managed to carry up and over the crossbar – the most egregious of many near-misses for NMH throughout the game.
But at 29:33 of the second half, the visitors finally broke through. A long cross from right-to-left found an on-rushing Hogger charging the Salisbury net. He put his head on the cross and directed it past Anderson into the opposite corner to tie the game at 1-1. Less than a minute later, NMH nearly scored the go-ahead goal on a scramble in front, but Anderson eventually dove into the fray to secure the ball.
Defensive carelessness in the box gave NMH a golden opportunity at 16:50, and this time the Hoggers capitalized. When a Knight defender whiffed on a clearing attempt, the ball rolled by him and onto the feet of an NMH forward who drove his shot past a helpless Anderson for what would prove to be the winning goal. By this point, Salisbury appeared to have run out of gas, as the ball barely crossed mid-field into NMH territory for the rest of the game. For its part, NMH kept pressure on the Knights’ goal. A blast from the 18 at 11:54 ricocheted off the underside of the crossbar but stayed out of the net. A series of quick touch passes inside the Salisbury box set up a point-blank shot from in front at 3:43 that sailed just over the crossbar.
Walsh credited his defense with thwarting NMH’s firepower for much of the game. “It was a hard-fought game out there today,” Walsh remarked. “We went with the formation we used against Pomfret in the second half [last Saturday]. We wanted to stay compact and allow their defenders to move the ball while maintaining numerical advantages in the more dangerous areas. NMH managed some play through the middle,” Walsh acknowledged, “but this strategy forced them to play over the top, which the backline of Addi Teye-Botchway, Drew Bazarian, Cole Allen, Diego Narvaez, and Thomas McIntosh dealt with. We played arguably our best game yet,” Walsh said in his closing comments. “It was tough to not come away with a point.”
Salisbury will be home again on Saturday in a 2:30 start against arch-rival Avon Old Farms.