Had they been able to duplicate their performance from the opening half, the outcome might very well have been different. Soccer games, however, are 80 minutes, and more often than not it's the final 40 that matters more than the first.
As the saying goes, "It's not how you start, but how you finish."
After holding their opponents to just one goal over the first 40 minutes of play, Jamestown's defense broke down against a relentless Lancaster attack in the second half, allowing seven goals, including three in a span of nine minutes, to lose its Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 battle, 8-0, on a wet and windy Friday evening at the Strider Field Athletic Complex.
Nolan Wells, left, heads the ball over Lancaster’s Matt Tobolski during the opening half of Jamestown’s ECIC Division 1 battle at Strider Field on Friday evening. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
With a plan to clog the passing lanes in their own end to disrupt a Lancaster (4-1, 2-1) squad that excels at passing and possessing the ball, things looked good for Jamestown in the early going. The Red Raiders (0-5, 0-3) surrendered just three shots on goal and, had the Redskins' final shot of the half not taken a fortuitous bounce, would have gone into the locker rooms having held the fourth-ranked large school in Section 6 scoreless.
Unfortunately, the ball did take that bounce.
With just over 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Lancaster defender Spencer Blizzard gained control of the ball in space about 10 yards from the halfway line. Blizzard, simply hoping to put pressure on the defense, sent a high-arching shot towards the Jamestown goal. With no Lancaster forwards near the ball, it looked as though goaltender Liam Kulakowski would be able to make the stop without issue. But the ball fell to earth faster than he anticipated and bounced over his head and into the net.
"We gave up three shots in the first half," Jamestown coach Andrew Pihlblad said, "and one was a goal that probably wouldn't have even counted as a shot if it hadn't gone in. We don't give up that goal and it's completely different."
The late goal was enough to force Jamestown to abandon its defensive gameplan, and with fewer players back disrupting the Lancaster offense, the Redskins began to pull away.
"It hurt us a little game strategy wise," Pihlblad said of Blizzard's goal. "We couldn't just sit back as much and wait for our opportunities. We had to push a little bit more, which opened us up in back and then they got a couple quick (scores).
Tom Kurowski, at the right post, headed the ball into the net off a free kick with 28 minutes remaining and Matt Kruszewski made a crossing pass following a free kick to teammate Bryan Olday five minutes later to quickly put the game from reach. Over the final 20 minutes of play, Lancaster would find the back of the net five more times to reach the winning margin.
"They had a couple of big guys that made some nice plays and put the ball in the net," Pihlblad said. "We didn't."