COOS BAY — The Spartans were not going to be denied a road victory. Stymied by Marshfield (5-3) defenders all night, the Marist Catholic boys soccer team took the lead off of sophomore Ryan Cary’s second goal of the night, this one with just three minutes left to play, to give the Spartans (6-0-1) a 2-1 Sky-Em League victory.
While falling to 1-2 in league play, Marshfield coach Drew Jones and the Pirates were pleased with the team’s performance against the fifth-ranked, and unbeaten, Spartans.
“When you press trying to win, that’s what happens,” Jones said. “We treated this like a playoff game and hey, we didn’t shrink, we stepped up. We showed we can play at that level.”
In the opening minutes of play, Marist was attacking early and often. Led by the speed of Cary and junior Torrent Adkins up top, the Spartans were constantly applying offensive pressure to the Marshfield defense. Helping the Pirates stop the relentless attack was sophomore Ernesto Hernandez.
“I think the backline that we have was pretty solid. Sometimes we had our little mistakes, but we kept telling each other it’s OK and push ourselves up more,” said Hernandez. “I think we are coming together nicely as a team.”
Pressured early, Marshfield’s freshman goalie Daniel Garcia was called into action off his line which, led to two Marist shots on a seemingly open goal being blocked by defenders — one from senior Gage Hammond and another from sophomore Andrew Krewson. But the Spartans continued to get shots off and, on a corner kick Adkins found Cary who took a touch off his chest before putting the ball in the back of the net in the 19th minute for the early Marist lead.
The Spartans appeared set for another goal two minutes after the first, but Cary’s shot bounced off the upper crossbar. With a steady attack, it was the Marshfield defense making plays time after time.
“They had a couple really key guys there in the back for them. Some speed in the back and they just did a really good job at clearing it,” said Marist head coach Chuck Koleno. “Marshfield played as a team and you could tell. It was a good match. Just trying to get past that backline was a little tough at times.”
Another almost-goal happened in the closing minutes of the first half, but this time it was the Pirates on the attacking foot. A ball played into the box was brought down by freshman Anthony Salinas who then played it past the Marist goalie but was called for offsides.
A tactical shift to attempt to push the Marist forwards to the center of the field and some possession with purpose gave Marshfield an edge in the opening minutes of the second half. The Pirates were attacking and looking for the right counter-attack, and it came in the 60th minute as sophomore Todd Martin played the ball forward to senior Miguel Flores. In a foot race against the goalie, it was Flores winning out and tapping the ball in to tie the match at 1-1.
“With our system, we’re waiting to pick off a pass and once we get it, we try and keep it, but we’re on the front foot. We’re going forward. Don’t try to fight it,” said Jones.
The Pirates continued to pressure, but it was a counterattack that sprung open Marist’s Adkins, who used his speed to drag the defense to the right side of the box while he then found an open Cary sprinting to the left side of the goal, where he was served the ball on a platter and gave the Spartans an advantage in the 77th minute.
“It’s a good win. You know, we didn’t have our best game tonight but we fought and those guys, Marshfield fought real hard. Very impressive. Did a great job,” said Koleno. “It’s hard to see, as a soccer fan, a game finish like that. Your heart breaks a little bit for the one team but obviously, I’m on the winning side so I’m pretty happy about that.”
With five games left on the regular season schedule, Marshfield now has a bye-week. The Pirates will be back in action on Oct. 8 at Elmira (2-3) before heading to the second half of the league schedule.
“We’re going to do what we need to do to get the bodies ready and then take care of Elmira and get revenge on Cottage Grove. That’s the first step, I made that real clear,” said Jones, referencing the team’s 3-1 home loss against the Lions. “We’re not looking to Marist, yet.”