BURLINGTON — Lewis Mills’ boys soccer team broke out of an early second-half tie with Northwestern for the game’s next four goals and a 5-1 win at Burlington’s Nassahegan Field Monday afternoon.
“We found our rhythm,” said senior captain Dylan McCall, the bandleader with two goals and an assist.
“We played well for the first half and the beginning of the second,” said Northwestern coach Andy Campbell.
In many ways, Monday was a trap game for the undefeated Spartans (7-0-1). Berkshire League co-leader Litchfield held Mills to a 1-1 tie last Friday in a huge game for both teams.
Playing on Monday’s holiday on a wet field in a game-long mist was nobody’s idea of ideal soccer conditions.
— CT Sports Now (@CT_Sports_Now) October 9, 2018
Nevertheless, the 5-3-1 Highlanders — especially their defense — came with a healthy playing chip on their shoulders after a blow-out loss to Litchfield two weeks ago and another loss to Nonnewaug Friday.
Defensive backs Colby Langer and Trey Neumann led a defensive wall blocking Spartan assaults for most of the first half.
Fourteen minutes into the half, Carter Viets and Bryce Duda teamed up for the Spartan exception, but the longer Northwestern held the Class M defending champions and perennial BL champions to their 1-0 lead, the more energy swept the Highlanders.
Five minutes into the second half, Neumann pulled off an emotional explosion with a long shot skimming off a Spartan defender into the goal for a 1-1 tie.
Then the Spartan drumbeat found its rhythm.
Northwestern goalkeeper Zach West (5 saves), aggressive and rock-solid in the first half, leapt for a Spartan corner kick in the 10th minute. Two minutes later, Chris Sederquist sent a ball to Viets on the left side for a shot nobody could reach.
The problem every defense faces against Mills, whose passes are almost always on target is that every pass must be defended. As the game wears on, the pressure is often more mental than physical.
“When you make a mistake, they show results,” said Campbell.
With a 2-1 Spartan lead, the results kept coming.
In the second half’s 18th minute, Josh Constantino eluded two Highlander defenders, then sent a pass to Dylan McCall for a dead-on shot close to the goal spelling the end of Northwestern hopes, 3-1.
Seven minutes later, Viets placed a corner kick at McCall’s feet for another. With a minute left in the game, freshman Ryan Begert was alone on a deflected breakaway for the final goal.
The Spartans lost seven starters from last year’s team, but, like Ansonia’s football dynasty, graduations for Lewis Mills’ soccer team are often just a chance for other talented players, with the primary challenge becoming the need to blend new players.
“We didn’t hit our stride until the tournament last year,” said Viets.
“We still have challenges,” said McCall. “Every team we play wants to beat us more than any other.”
“This year’s team is similar to last year’s,” said Mills coach Ben Kulas. “We still have questions we need answered. A game like last Friday’s is a good measuring stick to see what we need to fix.”
Lewis Mills 5, Northwestern 1
Northwestern 0 1 — 1
Lewis Mills 1 4 — 5
Goals: NW — Trey Neumann. LM — Bryce Duda; Carter Viets; Dylan McCall 2; Ryan Begert. Assists: LM — Viets; Chris Sederquist; Josh Constantino; McCall. Shots 10-6 Lewis Mills. Saves: NW — Zach West 5. LM — Joe Gormey/Ben Harris 3.
Records: Northwestern 5-3-1; Lewis Mills 7-0-1.