By Fred Hoffman, firstname.lastname@example.org 815-433-2005
OTTAWA — Every year, the mosquitoes hang around the King Field pitch just long enough to make everybody miserable during the closing matches of the soccer season, and every season the Geneseo Maple Leafs come for a visit and usually leave with a victory.
On Tuesday night, the blood-suckers were out in force the second the sun disappeared from view, and once again the Leafs prevailed in a well-played NIB 12 West soccer match, 3-0.
"I knew it was going to be a tough game, but the kids came out and played hard right off in the first half," said Ottawa coach Jeff Davis. "We played them evenly on the scoreboard, but Geneseo was controlling the ball and getting opportunities. Our kids stepped up then and got in front of the shots and deflected them. Give (the Leafs) credit because they're obviously a solid program. It was night and day from last night with our kids playing harder, more aggressively and did a better job of covering people."
The green-clad visitors did a very solid job of controlling play throughout the first 40 minutes of play, but had nothing to show for it at the halftime horn.
Reed Adams' blast in the first six minutes of play deflected off of teammate Brandon Gallagher and forced a difficult save from Ottawa's Jack Ainsworth. The clearing pass was not the best and Adams chipped another shot on target with the same result. For the next 10 minutes, the ball was almost exclusively in the Ottawa end, but touches don't count on the scoreboard.
The Pirates (7-6-2, 1-3) had their best scoring chance in the 15th minute when Matt Jackson's free kick from 30 yards nearly curled inside the near post, but slid just wide. A minute later, Jackson again had a free kick and this time it jumped the crossbar with an inch to spare.
Geneseo (5-7, 3-1) had the final scoring chance when Carson Cocquit boomed a rocket off the bar from the 18-yardline. The half ended with no score.
But Geneseo broke the double-shutout with a goal in the 44th minute on what would be called an own-goal in upper echelon football. The shot by Gallagher from inside the 18 deflected off a Pirate defender and changed direction, leaving Ainsworth sprawling to his right as the ball took a freak bounce to his left.
In the 58th minute, Keaton Johnson made it 2-0 when he took a rebound of Reed Vanderheyden's shot and slid it the width of the goalline and into the front corner of the cage. Again, Ainsworth had no chance to go from one side all the way to the other corner of the net faster than a ball can traverse that distance. He did make a terrific save in the 69th minute on a Vanderheyden shot, but but Vanderheyden reaped his revenge by assisting Adams on the final goal of the night.
"We made some changes in recent practices and moved some guys around because it was at their field and we knew we'd have to have some touches back there (on defense)," said Geneseo coach Harvey Morton. "We took some midfielders and put them on the outside so we'd get better touches. On offense, we missed some opportunities by not finishing. We'll work on that, and even though we have a game with DeKalb tomorrow, it's something you always work on: finishing."