St. Marys Juggernauts secured a second straight win to jump up into third place in the WOSL’s First Division standings as they defeated the visiting London White Eagles 4-2 last Friday at DCVI.
Juggernauts raced out to an early lead as keeper Aaron Wybrow’s goal kick was flicked forward at center field by Evin Murray and fellow strike partner Kene Mills was the first to react. Mills beat the Polish back-end’s off-side trap to go in on a breakaway and with a brilliant strike put his team up after eight minutes.
Both teams continued a feisty battle for the ball with the referee getting lots of vocal support from the visitors while Juggernauts played to the whistle.
Defender Dominic Pieroni took advantage of one of the many free kicks St. Marys received due to the late Polish tackles. With a pin-point cross to the top of the 18-yard box, midfielder Justin Soonteins with a text-book first touch controlled the ball and lined up a shot only to be tackled from behind and awarded a penalty shot.
Soonteins beat the Eagles’ keeper who did move the right way, but the shot had the right pace and position leaving the keeper swinging at air.
Slowly, though, the London Club started to grow into the game. It took time for them to settle but when they did, the game was played almost exclusively in midfield. The only problem was that when the action went into the Juggernauts’ end, it was in the areas where they could not cause any damage.
“Give credit to the back-line of Jake Dickey, Korey Graham, Dominic Pieroni and Kevin Thompson as they read the plays well, cut out passes and blocked shots with authority, letting keeper Wybrow clean up any balls over the top,” noted coach John Flanagan.
But, eventually, White Eagles did get some joy when a rare St. Marys miscommunication allowed the visitors to get a gifted goal just before half-time.
In the second half, Juggernauts started to find their stride again with the midfield of Lucas Jeffrey, Stefan MacNeil, Nick van Lierop and Soonteins taking control, sending balls through to strikers Murray and Mills, who served notice of their intentions to beat the Polish defence with speed as they continually worked into good shooting position.
As the London side continued to ask questions of the referee on every call, Juggernauts knew that if they got the next goal the visitors would be in a deep hole.
Eventually a superb pass from Jeffrey beat the Polish backline, and with striker Evin Murray already running full stride, he calmly broke in and buried his shot into the corner of the net to give his team some breathing room at 3-1.
Keeper Wybrow kept the Eagles from getting within one as he made a fantastic tip over the bar on a shot from distance. “Wybrow showed he has great concentration as that save after just routine clean-up is what set him apart from his opposite number tonight -- he made the big save when we needed it,” said coach Gord Moylan.
Well-organized and relentless in their work, the Juggernauts--having taken advantage of the visitors lack of discipline--continued their adventurous play. With some robust challenges from van Lierop in the midfield, it provided MacNeil and Soonteins the room to use their individual skills to lead the team with some pin-point passing.
It eventually saw Murray break in on the left side of the net and drill a low shot just inside the near post to put the contest away. The Polish scored a late goal, but by then the game was nearing the final whistle.
“This game was a good test for us as the London squad had a lot of skill and experience, but we did not play a game of sitting back and seeing how long we could hold out,” coach Flanagan summed up.
“We’re good enough to do what we want to do, and sharp enough, and when we do we are usually talking about a win. Again we saw Andy O’Connell put in a great shift tonight and we certainly saw Daniel Treadway and Michael Carlberg provide the bench relief to give the regulars the rest they needed.
“We certainly are pleased with Mills and Murray scoring on a regular basis, but the play of van Lierop, Dickey and Thompson in winning the 50-50 battles was a key tonight. This allowed our skilled players the room to counter-attack for a solid win tonight,” Flanagan added.
Juggernauts play this Saturday, June 27 against London America at the Windermere Fields, with a 4 o’clock start.
In other local soccer action, St. Marys Spartans have a home game this Friday, June 26, hosting London Curinga at 8 p.m., and the St. Marys U-18 boys host Middlesex United on Saturday, June 27 at 5 p.m.
Both games are at the DCVI field.