SOMERS, N.Y.— Sometimes a team just seems to have your number and that is the case for Somers’ boys soccer team when it faces the Lakeland Hornets.
When the scoreboard read all zeros at halftime, Lakeland knew it had the chance to bust through the defensive stalemate and shock the defending state champion Tuskers again after handing them their only two losses last season.
It was Somers that controlled possession during most of the first half into the second as the Hornets fiercely pecked away whenever it ventured too close.
Following a Tuskers turnover, Lakeland swiftly countered as senior forward Carlos Del Monte rushed toward the goal before two defenders split into him, sparking a free kick in the 61st minute.
Fellow senior captain Kyle McHale stepped up and perfectly placed a laser-beam into the upper-left corner of the net while Somers goalie Conor O’Donoghue could only watch. The goal propelled Lakeland to a 1-0 win over host Somers Sept. 15 at the Tuskers’ homecoming.
“Lakeland made the opportunities they got count,” Somers coach Brian Lanzetta said. “Their work ethic and mentality was much better than ours. They were the better team—it just wasn’t our day.”
Down a goal, the Tuskers continued to march into Lakeland’s territory and work its defense to the max.
But the Hornets just kept booting away every chance that Somers created, as the clock ticked under 10 minutes.
“They’re a high-flying, high-powered team,” Lakeland coach Tim Hourahan said of Somers. “Today, to win a game on the road in a tough environment on their homecoming, we had to play great team defense and hit a magical free kick.”
Tusker junior midfielder Lucas Fecci found the ball and hooked a mid-range shot just high off the center of the field-goal bar with eight minutes left.
Jonathan Riina, also a junior, vertically passed to senior Nolan Fierro on a cut, whose low-shot tumbled wide-left with just four minutes to-play.
The Tuskers’ plentiful opportunities finally ended in the 1-0 homecoming loss to their neighboring rival who poured onto the field in excitement.
“Our program is like Somers,” Hourahan said. “We’re considered one of the best soccer programs in the section. Nobody does a better job than coach Lanzetta, we knew that to win today, we needed to defend with numbers and look for counters.”
Sometimes a loss isn’t a bad thing for the Tuskers, who dropped to 3-1 and 0-1 in league play.
“It’s so hard to be consecutively winning,” Lanzetta said. “Tony DeMatteo said this was the best thing that could have happened to you. We needed a wake-up call.”
O’Donoghue made a total of eight saves, including a key punch off a line-drive shot near the crease shortly after the Hornet goal.
The Tuskers traveled to Walter Panas Sept. 19 and are scheduled to head down to Harrison on Saturday, Sept. 23, for a 5 p.m. start.