NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - After mother nature cut last week’s season-opening contest short, the New Providence Pioneers boys soccer team topped the Johnson Crusaders, 3-1, in their first complete game of the season.
Seniors Devin Mulligan and Matthew Gonzalez and sophomore Dylan Paniagua all scored goals in the victory. Mulligan and Gonzalez were also credited with assists along with fellow senior Brendan Regan.
Despite his team scoring three goals, head coach Craig Barclays feels several more goals could have been tacked on to the total.
“We played pretty well but we can do better,” Barclays said. “We need to do a better job taking advantage of our scoring chances that we create offensively. I feel like we could’ve scored double the amount of goals we actually did.”
Perhaps a slow start offensively played a role in the low scoring output.
The game’s first 15-20 minutes consisted of a lack of flow offensively for New Providence. “We were playing too frantic at the beginning and did not have much quality to our play,” Barclays said.
About midway through the first period, the Pioneers finally settled in offensively. The team was awarded a free kick from about 30 yards out and took advantage of the opportunity. Regan was the catalyst for the game’s first goal in crossing the ball to Mulligan who headed it for the score.
“The boys settled down a lot after that first goal,” Barclays said.
The Pioneers struck again a short time later thanks to a three-on-one fast break that was spearheaded by Mulligan. After the Johnson goalie made a fantastic save on Mulligan’s shot, Gonzalez was there to tap in the rebound to give New Providence a 2-0 lead.
The last Pioneers goal came near the end of the first period when Gonzalez crossed the ball to Paningua, who vollied the ball in for his first-ever varsity goal.
As was the case in the first half, the Pioneers began the second half slowly. The Pioneers created numerous chances to score but failed to capitalize.
“After Johnson scored their goal to make it 3-1, it was an even game after as both teams had chances to score but didn’t take advantage of those chances,” Barclays said.
Fortunately for the Pioneers, their defense, which was spearheaded by the physical play of center defenders Ryan Sherman and Brian Kelly, put the clamps on Johnson for much of the contest. The Pioneer defense surrendered their only goal at the game’s 52-minute mark.
“Our defense was physical and strong in general,” Barclays said. “Offensively, I was pleased with the amount of chances we created. We just need to do a better job of taking advantage of those chances.”
The Pioneers return to action on Thursday when they travel to take on the Linden Tigers.