Monday, March 10, 2014
BY DAVE MCLAUGHLIN
WATERVILLE -- The Messalonskee boys soccer team appears to be rounding into playoff form after registering it's third straight shutout Saturday morning beating Erskine Academy 2-0 at Harold Alfond Stadium on the Colby College campus.
Messalonskee's (7-4-2) defense turned the game in its favor midway through the first half with strong play in the middle of the field that forced the game into the Erksine (6-3-4) end of the field. The Eagles controlled play using superb combination passing out of the back.
"We controlled it on defense," Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said. "This is a great surface (turf) to play a game on."
Messalonskee defender Kevin McCarthy played a pivotal role in the back along with teammates Connor Leonard, Ryan Erksine, Chris Longley and Travis Stacey in a five-man rotation of the back defensive four. Messalonskee's solid play in the back generated numerous offensive attacks that resulted in a 19-4 shot advantage for the Eagles.
"Defensively we had our right shape," McCarthy said. "Everyone was stepping to the ball and that helped us dominate play. We really wanted to stay composed, keep possession and work the ball out with combination passes."
Aidan Calkins broke the scoreless tie when he hit a side-volley into the left side of the goal with 7:06 left in the first half. Calkins shot was from 12 yards out after he took a pass from the right wing by Jarrod Simpson.
"We had stretches where Messalonskee was pretty dominate," Erskine coach Phil Hubbard said. "We did a good job on the defensive end."
Although Erskine had difficult creating chances, the Eagles were able to stay in the game defensively. Erskine goalie Jared Gartley made several quality saves on the post to keep the score close.
Erksine defenders Jeff Pulver, Luke Peabody, Gage Currie, Cameron Reed and John Suga were strong in support of Gartley in the goal.
"Aidan did a great job on the volley," Sheridan said. "We moved the ball well and had excellent crossing balls something we have been working hard on in practice."
Messalonskee made it 2-0 when Nick Karma played a ball into the penalty box for Alex Runser, who scored from six-yards out with 19:50 left.
Gartley made eight saves, while Messalonskee goalie Jonah Webb had two.