Boys' Soccer - JV
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Deerfield, MA—Taft suffered a second defeat on the road, this time against a live-wire, unpredictable Deerfield side that featured skilled players across the pitch. While the Rhinos controlled long portions of the game, creating chances and putting the hosts under pressure, nonetheless, the Green made a late-game chance that turned into a goal two minutes before time. The final score reflected the efficiency both teams had in front of goal. From the opening whistle, Taft gave notice they intended to control possession and find scoring chances all across the front line. Midfielders Marwan Elborolossy ’21, Captain Devin Johnson ’20, and Tucker Cassady ’20 looked lively in the early going, combining with one-twos and playing in a rampaging Will De Luca ’21. It was De Luca’s grit and power that turned half-chances into right-footed shots across the Deerfield goal. The Doors’ keeper made a series of fine saves, denying the pressure time and again, backing up his center backs and giving the rest of the team confidence to press forward. Taft pushed into dangerous spaces, sometimes on the back of fine tackling and strident forward runs from RB Fej Esievo ’22 and sometimes with Aidan Essig ’21 pushing into center midfield to play vertical passes into the forwards. Truly, the Rhinos felt their first goal coming. Still, the first half ended scoreless and some attacking adjustments were in order. It took only 9 minutes before the Rhinos’ pressure on Deerfield’s backline paid off. As Will Franco ’22 faced up to his marker, he bamboozled with a step-over and a nutmeg to put himself into the box at speed. His opposite number hauled him down and the referee duly awarded the penalty. The resulting effort was hit with venom only inches too high to find net and caromed off the crossbar. Emboldened by their stroke of luck, Deerfield turned the screws on Taft and found success playing down their right-side channel. The Big Green winger looked lively and played with force. Taft earned a few uncharacteristic bookings, such was the heat and pitch of the contest, and the game wound down on a knife’s edge. Imposing center backs Nick Alin-Hvidsten ’22 and Alex Downey ’22 took turns battling the setting sun as well as the high searching balls Deerfield sent toward the penalty spot. Goalies for both teams were called to make last-ditch saves, and the boys on the benches were left scratching their heads wondering how some chances weren’t converted. All the same, the game rose to a dramatic conclusion when, following a flurry of flighted balls into the Taft penalty area, Deerfield achieved the breakthrough. An unkind deflection resulted from the hosts’ pressure and the ball ended up in Taft’s net with just 2 minutes remaining. Luke Smith ’22 and Tate Phillips ’21 did all they could to find the equalizer from center park, but too little time meant the Rhinos came up just short. Taft appreciates the hospitality and, especially, the generosity and sportsmanship Deerfield’s players and coaching staff showed during our trip to Massachusetts. After a long training break, Taft returns to action at Suffield Academy next Saturday, 10/5, at 3:45 pm.