CHATHAM, NJ - The Cougar soccer team hasn't had the best luck with injuries this season, with a number of starters being sidelined with variouis ailments.
But on Thursday, a little blood turned into a positive result for Chatham in a 2-0 boys soccer victory over Mendham at Cougar Field.
Midway through the first half, senior forward Robert Melchionna sustained a bloody lip and had to leave the game. His replacement, Cole Evans, responded with a well-struck ball that found the back of the net and staked Chatham (7-2-1) to a 2-0 advantage.
Soon after Evans entered the game, senior forward Brian Graham headed the ball to the right wing. Evans collected the pass, made a move past the final Mendham defender and blasted a shot into the upper right side of the net that beat goalie Jeremy McManus to the near side.
"I had an opening down the right and Brian Graham made a nice header down the line, I was just as suprised as anybody else was that I scored," Evans said. "That was the first varsity goal of my career. It's exciting."
Chatham had taken a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the action off a corner kick. Billy Calvert took the corner kick and connected with Tristan LeMon, who redirected it in at the near post.
"Tristan (LeMon) ran across to the front post and I hit it low and he kind of flicked it in with his right foot and beat the goalie on the near post," Senior midfielder Calvert said.
"I had three that hit the crossbar. As long as we win, it doesn't matter whether I score or not. I think we played well. There are things we need to work on, but it's definitely getting better."
Melchionna was starting for senior Jared Wood, who has an MRI scheduled for his injured knee this weekend. Evans was next in line and he produced right away.
Chatham's defense was outstanding in front of goalie Henry Stusnick, who made four saves in recording the shutout. Harrison Cote and LeMon anchored the central defense with seniors Greg Mah and Will Shi on the flanks. Cote, who missed time this season because of stitches to close a cut in his mouth, went down hard with 4:19 left and had to leave the game. The injury, however, was not serious.
The Cougar midfield dominated much of the action with Matt Toolajian, Graham Delaney and Calvert connecting with forwards Graham, Miles Michell and Evans.
"I think those three guys (in the midfield) are starting to find their rhythm," Chatham coach Mark Maka said. "Cole did a great job, he got into a good spot and it was a quality finish.
"It was good to score on a corner kick because we've talked about capitalizing on those opportunities. We're working on better spacing between our forwards. I think that's going to be key for us moving forward. We have things to work on, but we're getting there."