If Norton High School’s boy’s varsity soccer team wants to claim a spot in the upcoming MIAA tournament then they’re going to have to play consistent soccer, especially in their final four contests.
The Lancers squeaked out a 1-0 victory on their home turf Wednesday against Ashland, and now need two more victories (four points) to clinch a playoff berth.
“We did not [make the playoffs last year], so there’s a lot of motivation,” explained Norton head coach Eric Greene.
“[Last season] was a discouraging year in my opinion, but we’ve talked a lot about that and we’ve made a lot of changes and they’re responding very, very well.”
Norton commenced their match against Ashland by possessing the ball in the Clockers territory. However, missed crosses and shots allowed Ashland some opportunities to earn a lead, but Lancers goalkeeper Joe Maia denied those chances.
The Lancers eventually found the back of the Clockers net after the referees provided them with a penalty kick in the 25th minute following a foul in the goal area, which sent Tyler Hughes to the grass.
Brett Hanlon, who was selected to take the penalty kick, fired home Norton’s only score of the afternoon to the left side of Justin DeChaves’ goal, which proved to be the difference.
“They played well to get that [penalty kick], but it’s just unfortunate that they didn’t play consistent soccer [afterward], but as far as working hard to get that goal, it was great work to get the PK and it’s not a given shot, he’s still got to put it behind the keeper, so [Brett] did well,” said Greene.
Ashland’s attack increased dramatically in the second half, as their forwards and midfielders setup numerous scoring chances, but similar to Norton’s offense in the first half, the Clockers were unsuccessful at tying the match off corner kicks and crosses.
“It kills me to see [my team] work this hard in the second half and come out with intensity,” stated Ashland head coach Luis Goncalves.
“As soon as we get down a goal with 50 minutes left and we go into our hurry offense and we move three from the back and three up front, I just think they get clustered in the mind and they don’t think about what they’re going to do and how proper they have to do it.”
Norton also had some opportunities to push ahead by two goals in the second half, but similar to their opponent, Kevin O’Leary, Cody Shannon and Wayne Belcher were unable to produce goals off free kicks, corners, throw-ins and crosses.
“We played hard, scored one more goal than them, but it was very sloppy at times, but we did what we needed to do, [which was] score one more goal than them,” Greene said.
The Lancers will look to build off their one-goal victory on Friday when they travel to Millis to face a Mohawks squad they defeated earlier this season by six goals.
“[Millis] is going to give us a battle. They’re at home and they don’t want to lose, so we’ve got to keep it one game at a time, stay focused on what our goals are and continue to get the job done,” stated Greene.