Soccer: Dutchmen tune up for rough stretch
ROTTERDAM With a killer stretch of games coming up, the Guilderland boys’ soccer team is looking to maintain its momentum.
The Dutchmen, looking at games next week against fellow Suburban Council division top teams Shenendehowa, Bethlehem and Niskayuna, handled Mohonasen, 5-0, Thursday for their fourth straight win.
“We’ve gotten better each time, and that’s what we’ve been talking about,” said Dutchmen coach Mike Kinnally. “We get a little more used to each other.”
Familiarity has been a big part of the recent success for Guilderland, which started the season by splitting four games. Kinnally then made two key alterations to the lineup, switching the roles of Chris Connolly and Connor O’Brien.
“We needed a little more strength in the middle, so we moved Chris Connolly, who plays really well in the back, into the holding midfield position. Then we took ‘OB,’ who normally plays in the middle, and dropped him back to team with Noah [Scott].
“He plays with such composure. They play well together back there.”
O’Brien and Scott helped keep Mohonasen’s chances to a bare minimum. Scott also pressed forward when he could.
“He’s so smooth. He could have had three assists,” said Kinnally. “When’s the last time you saw a center back with three assists?”
“I’ll get my chances. I’ll pick and choose when I can go forward,” said O’Brien. “Me and Noah do a good job of talking.”
The shutout was just Guilderland’s second of the season, but the Dutchmen have not surrendered more than one goal in any game in their winning streak.
At the other end of the field, Kledis Capollari scored two goals, one on a penalty kick, and Chris Iuorno came off the bench to score half of the team’s four second-half goals. Connor Rubin also had a goal.
“In the back, I think we’re playing really well,” Kinnally said. “Finishing has been an issue for more than one day. We’re getting opportunities. We’re around the goal. As the season goes on, we’ll improve on that.”
Guilderland used its superior height to good advantage, maintaining possession in Mohonasen’s defensive third by continually winning head balls. That led to chances, which led to goals.
“Guilderland was good, but we committed a lot of fouls and gave them chances and they beat us off set pieces,” said Mohonasen coach Cory Gregg, whose 1-6-1 team was blanked for the third straight game. “They killed us in the air.
“We didn’t really press them. They pretty much dictated from start to finish.”
Mohonasen goalkeeper Pat Anunziata did his best, holding Guilderland to one goal in the first half.
“Patrick kept us in it. He held his own,” said Gregg.
But Guilderland kept finding and exploiting gaps in the Mohonasen defense.
“We want to make sure we keep things organized in the back, get goals and keep going forward,” said O’Brien. “We’ve been playing better.”
“Everyone’s healthy, we’re playing better and we’ve got some home games coming up. Everyone’s excited,” said Scott.
“We’ve got Saratoga this weekend, so we hope we can make it five before we play some of the toughest teams in the league next week.”
Kinnally knows next week could be very important to his team.
“You’d think if we play them three in a row, we’d have to beat one of them,” Kinnally laughed. “If we went 1-1-1 in that three, I wouldn’t cry.
“That’s a killer stretch. If you come out of the three of those and you’re semi-healthy, you’re happy.”