Ward Melville deflated following a Brentwood score that unbalanced a 0-0 stalemate, and with the 2-0 loss on the boys’ soccer team’s home turf Sept. 19, the Patriots slipped under .500, falling to 2-3 in League I.
“I think that we let down a little bit once we were scored on, and that’s something we’re looking to change,” Ward Melville head coach Jon Stecker said. “Having a young team — we want them to grow in those areas. I don’t think they were out of the game, and I think we could’ve come back at 1-0, but at 2-0 I think we gave up a bit.”
He also doesn’t believe his team capitalized on its opportunities.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunities in soccer — it’s one of the sports unlike basketball or football,” Stecker said. “[Brentwood] had it a couple of times and they were able to finish, which is pretty indicative of how they play. We definitely need to take advantage more of those opportunities if we’re going to win games.”
Ward Melville sophomore goalkeeper Caleb Rosenthal made three big stops to preserve the clean sheet in the first half, but his team’s offense struggled to take shots.
“It was a rough game,” he said. “We played pretty well, but there was a 10-minute lapse and they put two in on us and that was it.”
He admitted he was nervous coming into the game, but helped hold it down on the defensive side of the ball to maintain the 0-0 score heading into the second half.
“Brentwood is a good team, very competitive — but you have to keep your head straight and stay motivated,” he said. “It’s wet, so you really have to control the through balls, but I think we needed more through balls on the ground to be able to run into them, and more combination play.”
Rosenthal made a leaping save when he tipped the ball away with less than 25 minutes left to play, but five minutes later, as he came out of the box to make a save, the ball was passed up top to a forward who shot the ball into an empty net.
“I saw the ball go through and I was a little slow to react to it, so I tried to make up the space, but he was able to play it through and he was onside,” Rosenthal said. “So he got lucky there.”
At the 14:54 mark, Brentwood beat out Ward Melville’s defense up top, as the boys backed up, and the opposition beat out Rosenthal with a shot to the left corner for a 2-0 edge.
“It hurts a lot,” said junior forward and outside midfielder Harry Radke, who played outside back for much of the game. “It takes a lot out of you after you’ve put in all that work, but we just have to rebound after that, and we didn’t do that today. We slacked at some points and that hurt us.”
Like Rosenthal, Radke said the team needs to improve its combinations while switching the ball more and communicating as a unit to help the team grow this season.
Senior forward Jared Lee said he agreed that his team collapsed once the first goal went in, but added that the time spent in the Patriots’ zone didn’t help.
“We spent too much energy playing defense,” he said, “and we didn’t have enough energy to get back up the field.”
Being one of the lone senior starters, Lee has his plate full leading his team on the field during gameplay, and standing as an example to show his teammates where the rest of them should strive to be.
“He is the best player that I’ve ever had in the last 20 years that I’ve been here,” Stecker said of Lee. “He just conducts himself with 100 percent class all the time, he gives 100 percent, he doesn’t open his mouth; he’s the epitome of a class player. I’d like to do better for him. He just gives us everything he has, and he’s phenomenal.”
Lee battled up top all afternoon, and had several close looks, but Brentwood’s defense double and triple-teamed him to kept him away from the box for most of the game.
“We need to keep the same mentality through the whole game,” Lee said. “And not get let down if we let up a goal.”
The Patriots have made the playoffs nearly every year over the last 20 years, according to Stecker, who hopes to put the team on a new trajectory to get them the postseason experience it so desperately needs.
“We do think [the Patriots are] going to be a much better team in October,” Stecker said. “Due to the fact that we really only have one or two seniors starting — there is a maturity aspect there — but again, everyone steps on the field, everyone has a heart, so they should be giving 100 percent, there’s no excuses.”