Boys' Soccer - JV
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Watertown—Taft hosted its second guest of the season, Westminster, in a well-contested match-up between hard-working soccer teams. The Rhinos started on the front foot and put the Martlet defense on alert a number of times in the first ten minutes of the match. Midfielder Will De Luca ’21 combined well with defender Lachlan Hawes ’23 and made good use of the channel, while Luke Smith ’22 also found spaces to run through center midfield, often playing balls into Nixon Jennings ’22 or finding a late run from outside. In the 12th minute, midfielder Will Franco ’22 picked the ball up at center midfield and started on a mazy run amid Westminster defenders. As Franco cut in from the corner of the box and ran toward the penalty spot, his opposite left a leg in and put Taft onto the first penalty of the game. The subsequent attempt saw the Martlet GK guess correctly as he kept out the shot; but Franco followed on to score with a rebound from the goalie’s chest. As Westminster dug in and repelled Taft’s hopeful runs toward goal, the fouls came faster and the referee awarded a free kick in the 16th minute. Defender Aidan Essig ’22 stepped up to take the kick from 25 yards out on the right side of goal. De Luca moved quickly across the D and ran onto Essig’s curling effort near the far post, rising above his marker, and pushing his header over the hands of Westy’s ‘keeper. Taft 2-0. Captain Devin Johnson ’20 brought steel to the spine of the team and stifled the more frequent Westminster attacks that ensued. It was that defensive combativeness that ultimately ended with Taft earning its second penalty kick of the game, again from a Franco run that slashed from the edge of the box and brought heavy contact from the defender. This time, the first strike pulled net. Peter Yu ’20 and Cooper Reed ’23 patrolled their defensive areas and kept away the danger from Westminster’s renewed energy. Just before the official whistled half, however, Taft made another surge toward goal and, after a tackle on Jesse Brew’s ’22 bump-and-go down the wing, Tate Phillips ’21 struck a well-weighted corner to Reed in the center of the six-yard box. The second half saw Scott Noh ’22 contribute valuable forward play, as did Tucker Cassady ’20 in his deep crossing. After a foul late in the match, Marwan Elborolossy ’21 found Noh on a driven ball from a free kick just inside half-field. As the opposing goalkeeper came to make the play, a scrum ensued and finally ended when Johnson poked home the fifth and final goal of the game. Emmett Flynn ’22 took up the gloves for the better part of the second half, making Taft’s single save of the game and keeping things calm behind the back line. The Rhinos will travel to Avon Old Farms Saturday for a match that kicks off at 2:30.