Warriors’ Boys’ Soccer Wraps Regular Season with Split
Junior Jake Burdick and the Valley Regional boys’ soccer squad earned a win and a loss in their final two games of the regular season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Andrew Sherman scored an important goal to go up 2-0 in the Warriors win versus Haddam-Killingworth on Nov. 3. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
The Valley Regional boys’ soccer squad has posted a solidly successful season in 2020. Last week, the Warriors closed out the regular season slate with a pair of contests and came away with a split. Head Coach Mick Fearon’s team’s record moved to 7-3 for the regular season.
The Warriors opened last week’s slate with a 2-0 win over Haddam-Killingworth on Nov. 3. The game was hard fought, and neither team gained an advantage until the second half. Junior Jake Burdick and fellow junior Jorge Lanza Duron scored Valley’s goals in the game. Burdick notched an assist on Lanza Duron’s goal, as well. Coach Fearon knew that the Warriors were in for a difficult game against the Cougars, and was happy to come away with the victory.
“Haddam-Killingworth is always a tough game. It was 0-0 halftime, but five minutes into the second half, Jake got the ball 35 yards out, dribbled in, and took a shot from 20 yards that flew into the net. It was a nice goal,” Fearon said. “Ten minutes later, Jake took a shot from the edge of the box. Their keeper made a save, but the ball got away. Jorge got it and took the shot into the empty net.”
Valley put together a solid, all-around effort in the win. The Warriors’ defense played a great game keeping goalie Ian Silva from having to block too many shots on goal. The ball movement was also there for the Warriors, which is one of Coach Fearon’s biggest keys to any game.
“We had more shots than they did, and Ian Silva only had to make three saves. Our defense was under quite a lot pressure too. H-K has a very good freshman up on top, and he had a shot early in the second half that went off the post. We scored two minutes after that, which was a big turn of events,” said Fearon. “Overall, I thought we played well defensively. With Ian only having to make three saves, you’re limiting their chances. Their keeper made 12 saves. We knocked the ball around quite well.”
Unfortunately, the Warriors lost a big piece to their puzzle in Tucker Burr, who will be out for remainder of the year. Coach Fearon thought that was a tough pill to swallow.
“Tucker Burr’s our holding midfielder. So we lost a little bit of the steadiness there. It was a game where the midfielders did a good job in taking up the slack from missing Tucker,” Fearon said. “He had scored for us prior from that position, and he’s had a very consistent season.”
On Nov. 4, Valley headed to East Hampton to battle the Bellringers and took a narrow 3-2 loss in the contest. East Hampton jumped on the Warriors early scoring two of its three goals in the first half. Valley was able to shrink the margin with a goal from Burdick on a Jake McKenna assist just before then end of the half.
“East Hampton has really improved the last couple of years. They jumped on us early and scored three minutes in, then again at 22 minutes. They came out really strong. Losing Tucker had us a little stretched at the beginning. Getting down to a team like them with good defense, that was tough,” said Fearon. “Nine minutes before the end of the half we got a goal from Jake Burdick assisted by Jake McKenna. So I said to the boys at halftime that we got ourselves back into the game with the goal, but can we build on that?”
Unfortunately, the Bellringers were able to extend the lead early in the half. The fact that Valley battled back to within a single goal again was a small victory, especially considering the diminished depth on the bench. Valley’s second goal came from Andrew Sherman who scored on a cross from Burdick from the left wing.
“In the second half, we got caught ball watching a bit. Their forward put it in from the post to make it 3-1. A few minutes later, we scored our second goal,” Fearon said. “We still had 23 or 24 minutes to go, but we couldn’t tie it up. We didn’t test their goal keeper enough. He only made five saves, and we had two goals. We didn’t pressure him enough.” The Warriors had to split goal keeping duties due to Ian Silva being involved in a bit of a collision. Silva had a pair of saves before Jackson Bisson took over and made nine saves of his own. The hope is that Silva will be ready to play in any potential postseason contests.
“Ian went out after about 25 minutes. Then we put in Jackson Bisson. Ian made a couple of saves before he left,” Fearon said. “Jackson had nine saves, and two or three of those saves were really important.”
As it stands, the Shoreline Conference Tournament is still slated to play, but a handful of teams are already out of it due to COVID-19 concerns. The Morgan School has elected to cancel the remainder of the fall season for its teams, and Westbrook is shut down for the next week as well.
“We’re waiting for what’s going to go ahead with the tournament. As of now the tournament is still on, but it’s up in the air,” Fearon said. “The decision is usually made by the superintendents, and they pass it down to the athletic directors. Right now we’re just waiting to see. In a way I hope the kids can get the tournament in because it’s important to them, but first and foremost, you need everyone to be healthy.”