By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – When the Bristol Central boys soccer team possesses the ball, the squad could put on quite a show.
And in its city series showdown against Bristol Eastern on Monday, Oct. 1, that possession was good enough for only one goal.
However, it was sauce for the goose as the Lancers also tallied a lone goal and overtime could not produce an ultimate victor in the match.
In the end, the two teams ended the contest in a 1-1 stalemate from Alumni Field on the campus of Bristol Eastern High School.
Eastern’s Jake Woznicki and Central’s Brandon Holland did all the scoring that night as chances came and went for both squads.
“Jake [Woznicki] put in a first class goal, no doubt about it,” said Eastern coach Bill Sweet. “They negated us and we tried to negate them. I don’t know how well we did it but it was just enough to get a tie.”
Holland’s goal came just 15 seconds after Woznicki tallied his in a big-time scoring chance.
“That was a great response by our guys,” said Central coach Nate Jandreau. “I’m real proud of them for that because this particular game is all about how you respond when you’re down.”
The game was highly competitive, which the Rams dominated offensively at times with Eastern’s defense making some very big stops on several opportunities.
“We had a great effort defensively because we were on our heels most of the night,” said Sweet. “Central came to play.”
Central’s backline, consisting of Hunter Peterson, Andrew Oren, Kenni Cantarero, and James Nedorostek all made stops – keeping it a 1-1 game throughout.
“Before coming into the game, we went over every single strategy they had and every single type of play they were going to run, who to mark, who was going to be easy, and who was going to be hard,” said Peterson. “And obviously Jake [Woznicki] was the guy we had to watch out for. I feel we did pretty good but for that one slip up.”
“Other than that, we’re a solid backline.”
About 90 seconds into the game, Central’s Andrew Oren put a ball into the Eastern box but no one had a clean shot and the ball was quickly cleared.
Eastern’s Elijah Parent was being a menace early on both sides of the field but the action was 50-50 over the first 10 minutes as the contest was unfolding.
The Lancers had a corner kick with 31:30 to go in the half but the first goal of the contest remained elusive.
There was plenty of back and forth as only one shot on goal was attempted over the first 15 minutes of match play.
With 21:20 to go, Central took its best shot at Eastern keeper Nate DiLoreto as Yanni Koci drilled a 15-yarder but the attempt was saved and the scoreless affair continued.
A Central corner kick at the 19:32 mark of the first period was squandered as the visitors kept the pressure on while Eastern’s chances at the net were limited.
Eastern’s Joe Verardi tried to set up one of his mates with 13:53 left but the scoring drive to not come to pass.
The Lancers’ defense was doing just enough to keep Central out of its scoring schemes but with 10:07 left in the half, another Rams’ corner was foiled as DiLoreto came out to meet the ball.
Eastern then took two shots with nine minutes left in the half, including an attempt by Jared Greger, but it did not find pay dirt as the match remained a dead heat.
Over the final 20 of the first half, Central was the clear aggressor but had to settle for the 0-0 halftime stalemate.
“I think [Central] over possessed it,” said Sweet. “And I don’t mean it as a negative. I think they over-possessed us, that’s what I mean. Their possession was wonderful. Central had nice possession.”
The Lancers took a stab at the Central goal to open the second half and 30 seconds later, Central’s Adam Jones’ straight on shot was deflected by DiLoreto as business was beginning to pick up.
Eastern was much more aggressive offensively in the second half but both squads to continued to search for that perfect scoring combination.
And that came to pass with 34:51 left in regulation as Woznicki took in a pass, steadied it and from the left side, jammed the ball right by Central keeper Danny Gaudoin as Eastern led it 1-0.
“Right out of the locker room, we knew we had to go hard,” said Woznicki. “So right from the beginning, we knew we were going to straight pressure them so I think we pressured them well. We got them to kind of cough up the ball and just trying to turn and hit it and I guess it worked.”
“It was a good game for sure. If we just finished more of our chances and we put some of them away, we’d make it easier on ourselves.”
However, Central answered back in only 15 seconds later as Holland flipped a ball to the left of the goal and when it hit the back of the net, it was a 1-1 game.
“I thought we responded extremely well [15 seconds] later,” said Jandreau of the goal.
Eastern’s Dante Costantiello’s direct kick was saved by Gaudoin about a minute later as both offenses were trying to get to the pay window for a second time.
“Give a lot of credit to Central,” said Woznicki. “”They’re coming off a lot of injuries and they’ve been playing really well.”
Central’s Carson Rivoira lofted a shot from 20 feet from the right side but DiLoreto pinned the ball against the upper bar – forcing a Central corner kick.
But the set-up off the corner never materialized and with 24 minutes left, the match was still tied at 1-1.
“Nate’s solid in goal. I thought he was solid all night once again,” said Sweet. “I have no complaints with him. And Dante [Costantiello], he cleaned up a lot of problems for us. I was really pleased with him.”
There were plenty of 50-50 balls to go around with 20 minutes remaining as overtime was looming as a possibility.
Central’s Mark Palma had a nice ball into the box with 15:55 left in regulation and captain David Bowes just missed on a chance in the front of the BE goal a minute later as Central started to set things up.
The Rams continued to hang around the Eastern goal but the keeper did an excellent job directing traffic.
A couple Eastern headers were blasted into traffic with seven minutes to go and a cross 30 seconds later failed to find an active foot.
“We did play better in the second half,” said Sweet. “I was pleased with the second half.”
And then, with 5:11 left in regulation, Woznicki was set up, and looking to snare that go-ahead goal.
But his shot just drifted wide right and the 1-1 tie remained the score of the evening as the game was getting a bit physical as collars were tightening up.
Central brought everyone up with a minute left and Mitchell Peterson booted a shot that was run down by DiLoreto with 57 seconds left.
In the end, the game was destined for overtime with two, five-minute sessions about to commence.
Eastern had some nice balls late in the match but the squad simply couldn’t string that final price together for a secondary goal.
And then with two minutes left in overtime, Oren set up what could have been the game winning goal but as the ball was kicked into the net, offsides was called and the score was nullified.
“I thought we played hard and it was a little unfortunate there,” said Jandreau of the goal that was not allowed. “I’d like to see it on tape but regardless I thought my guys responded really well in such a close game, in such an atmosphere where your blood is running really high. I thought they handled that very well.”
Eastern took one last shot at it with 43 seconds to play but the ball was saved and at the sound of the final horn, the game was a called 1-1 draw.
“I’ll take a tie,” said Sweet. “We’ve been on good roll. We haven’t given up a goal in four games and we made [Central] work.”
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.