FAIRFIELD — That wasn’t exactly the debut Everett Lyons was planning on.
After playing the role of backup for three seasons behind all-state goalkeeper Dan Szabo, it was Lyons’ turn to get the spotlight as the starter in the Fairfield Prep net, but it was Guilford that stole the show in the Jesuits’ season opener Tuesday afternoon at Rafferty Stadium as the Indians netted two goals just over a minute apart early in the second half to steal away a 2-0 victory.
Tom Mitzelfelt flipped one goal in off his toe and Mete Yanbul scored from point-blank range to push the Indians, playing their second game in two days, past Prep, which was making its regular-season debut.
“I think we might have had some first-game jitters early, but we were moving pretty well and we were challenging balls,” Prep coach Ryan Lyddy said. “We were moving the ball, not as great as we would like to, but we had a couple of good shots on goal. We have a lot of things to work on. So, you take a negative and put a positive onto it and there are a lot of positives that are going to be coming out of this team the next few months.”
Over the course of the first half, Prep had the majority of the scoring chances as Ross Keblish, James Mitchell and James Burns all had solid attempts at getting the ball past Guilford keeper Ian Slattery, but each time, the plays did not connect, leaving the game scoreless at halftime.
“We were sitting back,” Guilford coach Joe Maher said. “My four backs were sitting back and they weren’t marking up or stepping up, helping the midfielder to mark the extra man, so as a result, Prep was pretty much playing five against four and they kept finding the open man and … oh my God, we did weather the storm. In the second half, we finally got our back to adjust and pick up the fifth midfielder coming through and it made a big difference for us.”
At halftime, Maher got the adjustment of getting that fifth back to move up to mark Prep’s fifth midfielder and that turned the tide. Barely 11 minutes into the second half, Guilford’s Sam Barbetti controlled down the left side and somehow, the ball found its way into the Prep box, where Mitzfelfelt got his toe on the ball and re-directed it behind Lyons.
“I didn’t see the play, it was so fast,” Lyons said. “It just happened so quickly.”
“The first goal, our defender was not goal side, the guy snuck in and tapped it in, that’s soccer,” Lyddy said. “There’s no such thing in my book as a garbage goal so you’ve got to give him credit for fighting hard.”
The second Guilford goal, coming just 1:05 after the first, was a blast by Yanbul that Lyons simply had no chance on.
“That was a great shot,” Lyons said. “I’ve got to give him credit for that one.”
After the game, Maher shook hands with Lyddy and hoped that he hadn’t done something that he might come to regret down the road.
“I told Ryan that I hoped we didn’t awaken a sleeping giant over there,” Maher said.
“I think something was jarred today,” Lyddy said. “There are so many new faces on the varsity squad. We’ll talk about what we did well, what we did poorly and go from there. This team will definitely be in contention for something, no question.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Guilford’s Tom Mitzelfelt. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Finding himself alone in front of the net, Mitzelfelt was able to get his foot on the ball and get it past Prep keeper Everett Lyons and take the air out of the Jesuits’ sails.
“We have a great defense, probably one of the best in the state and what we need to work on is putting the ball in the back on the net.” — Prep keeper Everett Lyons