CHATHAM, NJ - It was a narrow 1-0 victory for Chatham boys soccer on Wednesday as they took down Randolph at Cougar Field, however some on the team knew that the team did not give its best effort in the victory.
Nonetheless, the Cougars picked up their second victory of the year against a tough Randolph team, one that came away with the Morris County Tournament championship last season.
The first half was high energy on both sides, with Chatham and Randolph each creating good scoring chances. However, the first and only goal of the day would come off the foot of junior Andrea Chevalier, who netted his first goal of the season to put Chatham ahead with about 16 minutes remaining in the first half. Chris Dolan's through ball set up the chance finished by Chevalier, who is playing his first season for the Cougars since moving here from France.
“That was very good for me,” Chevalier said about his goal. “It was crazy, with the fans over there, it was exceptional.”
Randolph would create one more great scoring chance before the break, as they fired a shot off the crossbar in the late stages of the first half. In the second half, the field was tilted towards Randolph, as Chatham (2-3) was forced to play much of the final 40 minutes on the defensive side of the pitch. Try as they might, Randolph (2-2) struggled to create anything that made Chatham goalkeeper Peter DeMaria sweat.
“I like what we did today,” DeMaria said. “Our defense was strong and our offense finally came through with Andrea.”
With their backs against the wall in the final five minutes, Randolph suddenly had a burst of energy that created two quality scoring chances that would have evened the match. One such chance came as a Randolph shot slowly rolled past the right post and out of play, and another came off a long free kick. The ball, kicked from one end of the field to the other by Randolph, ended up in the 18-yard box, where DeMaria attempted to come up and make a play on the ball but Randolph’s forwards got it past him. Sophomore defender Ian Kagan was forced to make a play in the box, clearing the ball off the line and thwarting any further danger.
“I don’t know what was going on there,” DeMaria said. “I actually missed the ball, so we got lucky. We’re going to work on that in practice and hopefully bounce back and never let that happen again.”
Despite the victory, Chatham coach Mark Maka knows his team can perform better.
“Not our best performance,” Maka said. “In the first five minutes I thought we were pretty good, and I think we got a little too comfortable too quickly and maybe didn’t show enough respect to the opponent.”
Though effort had some to do with it for Maka, he also acknowledges that a lack of chemistry plays a role as well.
“We’ve been dealing with some injuries and we got a little bug that’s been going through the team, so we haven’t had all our guys fully healthy and playing at the same time,” Maka said.
The Cougars take the pitch again on Friday at 4 p.m. against Mendham at home.