By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Ninety minutes couldn’t settle the city series boys soccer battle between the Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern squads on Monday, Oct. 30.
The physical game saw both squads take shots at the opposing goal but, even with two overtime sessions, that one game-winning goal proved elusive as the Lancers and Rams drew a tie from Alumni Field on the campus of Bristol Eastern.
“We played hard,” said Eastern coach Bill Sweet. “Both Central [and Eastern] played hard; you’ve got to give them credit. They were on our feet a lot. Frustrating them is something. It’s hard to shut them out. Give our defense credit. They’ve come a long way.”
Central’s offense moved up and down the field with zest; but Eastern was there to meet every challenge, bogging down the unit with a steady defensive effort.
“We didn’t really combine as well as we have,” said Central coach Nate Jandreau. “It’s because of a couple things. One, [Eastern] work[s] really hard at pressuring you in the midfield and not letting you pretty up the game and combine all those passes. And two, I think the nerves get you.”
“When you play out there, it’s not like any other game. You can kind of lose it, let it get away from yourself.”
Eastern’s Kyle Winiarski took a shot two minutes into the fray and quickly, the home team’s offense was in motion.
The Lancers quickly got into the box again but the ball was cleared as Tom Lombardi, Jared Greger, and Jake Woznicki were putting the pressure on.
Again, Winiarski took a shot at keeper Alex Bernier (seven saves) five minutes in but Central countered and Eastern goalie Tom Tefoe ran out to snare away a shot from a direct kick.
Tefoe later scooped it away from David Bowes as it was eventful 6:30 to open game play.
“Tommy Tefoe is so solid in the back,” said Sweet. “[Fullback] Bruce Worley played well. He doesn’t get a lot of talk but he’s very steady. He doesn’t stand out as much as others but I thought he was very steady.”
Eastern again kept Central’s fast feet on the outside looking in.
The Lancers earned a corner kick at the 30:00 mark of the first stanza and off a Winiarski kick, Woznicki’s header was plucked away and even as the ball went out of bounds off Bernier, the second corner didn’t do any harm as the match remained scoreless.
The good back and forth play continued midway through the first stanza as both squads settled in.
Greger squared one off at Bernier with 23:30 to go in the first and then Woznicki plastered a shot at the keeper that was quickly saved less than a minute later.
The Lancers continued to throw fresh bodies into the fray as Ben Chiasson, Nick LaChance, and freshman Martin Wuesthoff all made appearances in the match halfway through the first period.
In fact, the freshman almost ran down a ball, facing a charging Bernier, but the senior kicked the ball to safety.
Central’s defense also did along with Bernier behind them, scooping up everything in sight.
“Our defensive did play really well,” said Jandreau. “[Eastern] come(s) at you and they wait for you to make a mistake and they’re going to give you that effort all the time. You’ve got to have a sharp defense and you had to be sharp for the full ninety tonight. And I thought our four backs, including our goalie, were very sharp.”
“They played well together. It was a good, good defensive effort from those guys.”
Eastern was in control offensively over the first half, maintaining possession of several 50-50 balls but Central was pesky, fighting for everything.
The first 40 ended in a 0-0 tie as the Rams withstood the Eastern onslaught but did not yield a goal.
“I think in the first half, we were definitely under fire,” said Jandreau. “I think in the first half, [Eastern] gave it to us. That’s my fault. We were running a little different formation. We were trying to be a little defensive and it didn’t work out.”
The back-and-forth tilt continued out of the halftime gate but while Eastern remained aggressive, Central started to turn the corner offensively as well.
Winiarski kicked a field goal over Bernier’s head early in the second period and the home team kept on Central’s side of the field though Central’s Josh Cordero just missed a whale of a shot that scooted to the left side of the goal.
The Rams’ Marcello Delvalle drew a yellow card with 32:30 left after getting knocked down on a Central drive but quickly was reasserted into the scoreless contest as he was hustling all over the turf.
Central defense was doing a great job spreading out Eastern’s offense just enough to keep the Lancers at bay.
“I think defensively, we were really good,” said Jandreau. “The backs were really sharp. The seniors back there, Dante Prado and Dillon Willis, played unbelievable tonight. They kept us together, they kept them from countering, kept their big guy [Winiarski] from getting their offense going.”
A free kick in the Eastern box was foiled by a header from Winiarski and with 22 minutes to go, the game remained a scoreless jaunt.
Central’s Adam Jones then rang a screamer off the goal post above Tefoe and one of the squad’s best chances of the night came and went without a score.
“Dante [Costantiello] back there sweeping, our center-back, he’s steady,” said Sweet. “But I like what Tommy Tefoe did.”
Woznicki had his bell rung with 15:35 to go, having to leave the field, but the Lancers’ offense continued to surge forward – attempting to find that game-winning goal.
“After Jake [Woznicki] when out, Tommy Lombardi and Kyle were our skilled players and they ran a lot. They’ll be tired boys.”
However, the Lancers looked to be on the verge of scoring soon after.
Eastern finally got the ball in to the Central box, and Bernier was out of the net and on the turf.
Drew Dauphinee couldn’t get his foot on ball and with fourteen minutes to go, another opportunity came and went.
“We had some chances and [Central was] certainly knocking at the door too,” said Sweet. “Dauphinee was right there. He’s there, that’s half the battle…I was pleased he was there because early in the year, it wasn’t him necessarily. It was other kids.”
That’s where Central seemed to really take the offense to task.
With 10 minutes to go, Central’s Diego Naranjo took a stab at it but the ball went right to Tefoe.
And then a corner kick by Central with 1:50 remaining in regulation was snatched by the slick Tefoe.
Finally, a late Central header did not find pay dirt and for the second straight city series game, the contest was forced into overtime.
Under 45 seconds left in the first overtime, Delvalle sprawled out a shot but, again, there was Tefoe – coming out of the net, and the game was a no score event.
And then in the second extra period, Winiarski found Ben Chiasson in front of the goal, with under two to play, just kicking the ball above the goal.
“We did not connect [on] that last pass that we needed and that really hurt us,” said Sweet.
And when the final horn sounded, the teams finished at 0-0 but both squads had late chances to put the thing away.
“Where we struggled, we didn’t get forward as a team,” said Jandreau, “and that’s usually something we’re able to do, combine four, five or six passes and forward something really solid and we never got that.”
And it was another solid effort by the Lancers against a very fast squad.
“Overall, I thought we were pretty balanced,” said Sweet. “We had to negate their speed and when they came at us, a hundred miles an hour, we had a harder time. But we’re getting better.”
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.