By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – When the Bristol Eastern boys soccer team can diversify its offense, the outfit can be a tough one to top.
And against Newington on Tuesday, Oct. 10, the Lancers saw four different players notch a goal as Eastern defeated Newington 4-1 from Alumni Field in Bristol.
The Lancers moved to 4-5-1 in the winning effort while the Indians fell to 1-7-1.
The home team led 3-0 in the contest, gave away a goal midway through the second period, before the Lancers’ defense refused to allow another score to slip through.
The four goals were the second most Eastern scored in a match this year with only the seven goal explosion against New Britain on Sept. 19 providing a higher total.
“Well, our offense came alive,” said Eastern coach Bill Sweet. “After Newington scored its goal, all of a sudden, they put it on and we weren’t able to clear it except for Donte [Costantiello] and the back line was really smooth. He can come up hard [and] play the ball. We’ve got to build on that.”
Costantiello led that defensive push along with Gabe Soucy, Patrick Brady, and captain Bruce Worley for the Lancers.
While all the usuals on offense pelted the Newington keeper with shots, Eastern also turned to its bench, keeping fresh bodies in over stretches of the showdown, and that certainly had an impact.
That included Drew Dauphinee, Noah Piazza, Brandon Greger, and Ben Chiasson.
“I’ll tell you the truth, a couple of our younger guys came in and showed me something,” said Sweet. “Drew Dauphinee didn’t play bad and just for a couple minutes, Noah Piazza in the first came in, won the ball, moved with the ball and played it. We needed some more of that. We hope we can pick up on that.”
The Lancers kept the pressure on the Indians’ defense early, giving the home team a chance or two to break open the event.
Eastern had a chance two minutes into the fray when Jake Woznicki blasted a cross into a crowd. Lyle Winiarski found the ball but his attempt when wide right as the contest was quickly afoot.
But Newington started to get into the flow, Hermish Adarkwah was finding a groove and took some shots at the Eastern goal, setting up a corner kick that eventually went nowhere for the visitors.
The Lancers couldn’t clear the ball and with 32 minutes left, Newington just missed a goal – watching the attempt clang off the right goal pole – as Eastern dodged a bullet.
Then a minute later, Eastern earned a corner, setting up Woznicki with a header from the far right but the attempt did not find pay dirt.
Eastern went to its successful Winiarski/Woznicki corner kick combination with 27:15 left in the first half but the head-shot went the wrong way as Newington was keeping the event scoreless.
Winiarski made a solid move to the goal with 24:43 left that the Newington keeper was able to snuff out but the attempts were coming left and right from the Lancers.
Eastern certainly spent more time on the Newington side of the field but a misconnection here, a quick Newington foot there helped keep the home squad from scoring.
And then the opportunistic Lombardi struck with 15:19 left in the first period.
Off a failed clear, nearly in the center of the box, Lombardi snuck by a defender, easily nabbed the ball and quickly jammed the ball into the goal as the Lancers surged in front 1-0.
“He tries to do so much because he’s by himself as a separate offensive player,” said Sweet of Lombardi. “He got caught side-to-side so we wanted to push him in the middle. He stayed central a little bit more. He’s another smooth player too.”
“Once he got in there, he did really well and they had some big boys when the ball came out and he’s right there heading with them. I thought he was sharp that way.”
It was a physical affair as Adarkwah earned a yellow card with 9:40 remaining in the first but Lancers continued to put the pedal to the metal.
Winiarski then smacked a ball over the goal posts with 6:50 showing on the clock in the first as the home team was outshooting the visitors nearly 4-to-1 to that point of the match.
Eastern earned another corner with just a minute to play and eventually, Lombardi played a great ball to Piazza who took a shot from right to left but the attempt went just wide, keeping it a 1-0 game.
That 1-0 lead loomed big going into the half as the Lancers did an excellent job getting into the Newington passing lanes to keep the visitors scoreless.
The Indians’ offense tried to put something together early in the second frame but, thanks to the Eastern defense, was a bit too erratic to get into scoring position.
And it didn’t take long for the Lancers to score the second goal of the game as Jared Greger sailed a shot from 30 yards out past the Newington keeper as it was a 2-0 game with 34:36 to play.
A Newington injury seconds later caused a bit of a delay and on the restart, Woznicki went into Newington territory, 1-on-5, and while the hustler didn’t score, Eastern was clearly the aggressor of the contest.
And with 29:57 showing in the clock, the Lancers went in front by three goals.
It was a great push by Winiarski and a charging Woznicki was not going to be denied again.
From the right side of the box, Woznicki lofted a blast that the keeper intercepted but could not control.
The goalie could only helplessly watch the ball slip backwards, eventually crossing the goal line as the Lancers raised the stakes to 3-0.
But Adarkwah scored a goal in traffic nearly 90 seconds later and suddenly, the Indians were trailing just 3-1 and hanging around in the game.
“Newington, they’re all young,” said Sweet. “They started one or two seniors. We started four [seniors] but we’re young too I would say. Those kids will come along.”
Eastern didn’t let up and continued to pressure, shooting into a crowded box several times with 23:30 left as the Newington offense turned on but quickly faded off.
With 16:00 left, the Indians took two good shots at the Eastern net but keeper Tom Tefoe came out to save one and the other attempt went too far left as opportunities came and went for the visitors.
The Indians started winning a few more battles to earn a little more possession but time was becoming a factor as the two-goal deficit was a deep deficit to overcome.
Another corner, created by a Jared Galarza steal, came and went and off another missed opportunity in front of the Eastern goal, Tefoe snuffed out an indirect direct kick with 6:40 remaining.
“He’s a presence in there because he’s a big boy,” said Sweet of Tefoe. “He usually gets to the ball. There was nothing he really could do on the [Newington] goal I don’t think. They moved it well and we didn’t clear it.”
Eastern kept playing the ball forward as the final minutes were ticking off the clock but Winiarski wasn’t finished.
With 2:09 left, Winiarski was in the middle of the Newington box, turned and blasted it by the keeper as the tally made it 4-1.
That would be the final score of the match as the Lancers came away with a three-goal victory with a slew of home contests to follow.
“I’m thrilled for this team,” said Sweet. “We had to get this game. It’s our home field. We’re trying to do everything on our home field now because we’re home so much. We were away most of the time, even when we played at the soccer club, so the bus rides are few and far between now.”