NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence High School Boys Soccer team came running out of the gates on Thursday at Lieder Field, pressuring the ball and playing consistently tight defense en route to a 2-0 victory over David Brearley High School.
The Pioneers (2-1-0) were lifted by goals in the 34th minute from junior forward Shane Mahlstadt and in the 73rd minute from sophomore forward James Miller. New Providence also only allowed a handful of shots from the Bears (1-3-0), who couldn't muster up any offense due to the constant stifling defense from their opponent.
“We wanted to keep a high line and trying to press them in all game, and we just played at the same intensity as we’re used to,” Head Coach Panella said.
Ever since New Providence stormed out with immediate pressure on defense to start, it quickly turned into Brearley turnovers and resulting in offensive opportunities, as the Pioneers made several runs down the field into the box in the first 15 minutes, however with their attempts being unsuccessful.
The Pioneers nearly scored early on in the 16th minute when Christiano Hocken booted the ball from inside the box but was saved by the fingers of the Brearley goalkeeper, resulting in a corner kick. The attempt on the corner was also knocked down by the goalie, Dylan Jorge.
New Providence continued to get shots off in the first half, with Hocken and Miller both getting good looks midway through the first half, but Hocken’s was wide left and Miller’s was snagged out of mid-air by a diving Jorge.
After continuing to control possession throughout the first half, the first goal would finally be scored by Mahlstadt in the 34th minute. He was met with a cross from Brian Azevedo from the left side of the field, flicking the ball in off his right foot into the left corner of the net.
The second half was met with a little more intensity from Brearley. It was the Bears who put early pressure on the ball to start the half, and had more scoring opportunities than in the first half. The result was all the same however for the Bears, as they couldn't convert due to the stellar work in the net from Pioneers goalkeeper Dillon Konzelmann.
Konzelmann recorded nine saves for New Providence, while Jorge recorded 12 for Brearley, who was much more flustered due to the increased amount of chances for New Providence. The Pioneers also had eight corner kicks on the day, really highlighting their offensive effort.
“Anyone who stepped on the field gave it their all today," said
Shane and James played great up in front, each giving us different options to work with. Our center line played well also, and Dillon was great in goal.”
The most action-packed part of the game for both teams was between the the 68th and 74th minutes. A shot from Brearley was saved by Konzelmann to start a counter by Miller, who ran all the way down the field only to be cut off at the box to result in a corner kick. The corner kick was also cut off by the Bears.
Brearley’s next offensive possession was also a shot on goal caught by Konzelmann. The Pioneers countered down the field, but Hocken’s shot was again off, only to leave Brearley threatening. They nearly would score on the counter attack, as Brearley’s Sebastian Lopes attempted to flick the ball past Konzelmann, but he stopped the ball with his foot and kicked the ball out to safety, resulting in Hocken getting the ball out to Miller, who would race down the field to place the ball perfectly into the far corner for a 2-0 lead.
“We had a lot of chances in the first half, and we started to let them back into the game at that point,” Miller said. “I had a lot of chances to finish but I couldn’t, but I luckily was able to get one in and it felt good.”
Both teams would close out the game with tough defense, however New Providence clean-sheeted the Bears for their second home victory of the season. Miller attributes the win to the strong start.
“Coach has taught us to work hard and we wanted to come out strong,” Miller said. “We were able to defend really well by putting pressure on the ball today.”
After falling to Dayton on Saturday 3-1, Panella believes the Pioneers responded to play their most consistent ball of the season on his regard.
“We had to make some adjustments with Tyler Bradley going down, and I thought Dylan Pizzi came right in and played really well at center back. Overall for 80 minutes we played our best soccer of the season so far,” Panella said.
New Providence will look to grab a victory on the road on Saturday when the take on Rahway at 10 a.m.