Eagles fall in consolation of John Werner Tournament

ARLINGTON -- After enduring routs against Springfield and Mount Anthony in the past two games, the Arlington Memorial High School boys soccer team looked like a completely different group in the first 11 minutes of Friday's John Werner Tournament consolation game.

Arlington took an early two-goal lead on Otter Valley, appearing worlds away from Wednesday's loss.

But the Otters roared back over the following 69 minutes with three goals in the first half and five total to take third place in the Werner tournament with a 5-3 win on a cold, wet day at the Arlington Rec. Park.

"I think there was a little bit of complacency up two, a little bit of false hopes," said Arlington coach Todd Wilkins. "But that's how they've been playing the last couple games.

"They have 10-minute spurts, then they sit on their heels. My guys should be better than that."

For a short time, the Eagles (2-4) looked like the team that played Brattleboro into overtime in the John James Tournament.

After withstanding the Otters' initial charge, Arlington's Fred Pickering flew up the left side and crossed to Ryan Spencer, who beat goalie Beau Buxton in the eighth minute.

Three minutes later, the Eagles charged upfield again. A through-ball went toward Buxton, who got a hand on it to knock it away. The rebound ricocheted to Konnor Andrews, who fired to the top left corner to double the advantage.

"We were winning balls, using our speed up front," Wilkins said. "But once we got up 2-0, we acted like we didn't have to win 50-50 balls anymore. We didn't grab a hold of it. You try to give them the skills, but the desire and heart come from them."

After the second goal, Otter Valley controlled the action for the rest of the first half. The first of two Oskar Sadurski goals came with 20 minutes left as the Otters peppered Arlington backup goalie Aric Rhodes.

The junior backstop, in only his second varsity start, made 24 saves filling in for injured starter DJ Jennings.

"Aric did a great job. He made some mental mistakes early, but I expected that, especially in the wet," Wilkins said. "I was extremely pleased with his performance; he made a ton of saves."

With 10 minutes left in the half, Otter Valley senior captain Jeff Corbett equalized after fighting off several Arlington defenders on a long run.

"It took us a few games to figure out the chemistry on the front line, and we're coming to terms with that the last couple games, starting to establish what works and what doesn't," said Otter Valley coach Muffie Harvey.

Corbett scored again three minutes later, beating two Arlington defenders to force a 1-on-1 situation.

Rhodes couldn't stop it this time, and Otter Valley took a 3-2 lead to the half.

In the second half, Arlington was slow to come out of the blocks and Otter Valley took advantage. With 31:08 remaining, quality passing led to senior Tyler Bickness stretching the Otters' lead to 4-2.

"They got down after the fourth goal and they folded," Wilkins said. "I saw some heart tonight, but none in the last two games. The communication was non-existent out there; we didn't keep the pedal down."

The Eagles showed some life about halfway through the second half, making it 4-3 on John Esposito's third goal of the year.

However, Sadurski iced the result with a goal off a cross with 9:10 to go.


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