Boys' Soccer - Varsity
Phillips Academy Andover
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Win 5-1
On Saturday afternoon, Taft hosted perennial powerhouse Andover in what proved to be a physical and emotional battle between two great prep school soccer teams. With the wind at their backs, Andover controlled the play for much of the first half. In the second minute of the match, Taft goalkeeper Shayan Karimi was called upon to make an important save. An Andover midfielder looped a shot that was headed for the upper corner, but Karimi touched the ball over the crossbar to keep the game scoreless. Throughout the half, Andover drove multiple free kicks and corner kicks into the Taft penalty area, and even though those services proved to be quite dangerous, Karimi and the Taft defense manage to keep Andover off the scoreboard. Although Andover dominated possession for the early part of the match, as the half wore on, Taft began to create a few scoring opportunities. It looked as though the teams were headed to half time without a goal, but then, seemingly out of nowhere, Sammed Bawa intercepted an Andover pass in the center of the park. He touched the ball around one defender, raced towards the Andover goal, and dribbled past another Andover defender before he was hauled down inside the penalty area. With less than a minute remaining in the first half, Taft was awarded a penalty kick, and Bawa stepped up to take the spot kick that he created. The sophomore midfielder made no mistake, rifling the ball into the corner of the net, giving Taft a 1-0. Taft came out to start the second half with much better energy, pressuring Andover attackers and maintaining possession more effectively. Just two minutes into the second half, Marvin Sibanda drilled a shot on frame, and the Andover goalkeeper made an impressive effort to parry the ball away from the goal. Fortunately for the Big Red, the ball fell to Carter Veley, who smashed it into the back of the net, doubling The Rhino lead. Andover continued to threaten Taft with set pieces, but they were unable to convert. In the 67th minute, Mthabisi Tshuma picked up the ball on the right side of the field, split two defenders, dribbled around a third, and calmly slipped the ball to a wide open Aaron Skeene, who passed the ball into the back of the net, making the score 3-0. Shortly thereafter, Andover pulled a goal back when one of those set pieces was headed home. With the game still in the balance, Sammed Bawa set up for a corner kick in the 79th minute. Bawa whipped the ball into the penalty area where it was met with force by a hard-charging Micah Umeh. Umeh slammed the header into the back of the net, making the score 4-1. As time was winding down, a handball inside the Andover penalty area resulted in another spot kick for The Rhinos. This time is was Marvin Sibanda who slotted the ball past the goalkeeper, resulting in the full time score of 5-1. It was a game that was much closer than the score indicated, and Taft did well to overcome its toughest test of this young season. The Rhinos will now move forward with plenty to work on as they prepare for upcoming road trips to The Gunnery and Suffield.