WEST DEPTFORD – There were few if any secrets on Monday night on the back fields of the West Deptford Industrial Park’s soccer complex.
Not that many boys’ soccer games in the Colonial Conference follow an unfamiliar script, so even with a loss to conference rival Sterling by Haddonfield that left a sour taste in the Bulldawgs mouths, West Deptford knew what to expect.
“We needed a fast start,” said Haddonfield head coach Ryan Nixon, whose team lost by four goals to Sterling on Friday. “We needed to come out strong and play better from the outset.”
“We knew that (Haddonfield) lost on Friday,” West Deptford head coach Steve Jakubowski said. “We also knew with their offense we were going to give up a goal. We didn’t in our first two games so we wanted to see how we would react. Initially we did well but in the end, we can do much better.”
Haddonfield (4-1 overall, 3-1 division) opened the scoring in the first three minutes on a goal by Max Norton and, after it survived a push by West Deptford (2-1, 1-1) over the next 25 minutes, secured a 2-0 win in a Liberty Division game.
“I think that 25 or so minutes after (Haddonfield) scored early, we played really well,” Jakubowski said. “But in the second half, give Haddonfield a lot of credit, they outworked us and wanted it more. We definitely can take some positives out of this and build on it and we will be seeing them again later this year (in a night game at Talon Energy Stadium).”
The game opened at a frenetic pace as Haddonfield went on the attack. In fact three consecutive failed chances had Nixon fighting back frustration on the sideline. A restart from 42 yards proved to be the difference as the ball sailed into the box where Norton put it home for the lead.
Instead of seizing the momentum, the Bulldawgs got back on their heels.
“I’m not sure how that happened,” senior sweeper Mike Gallo said. “Maybe we relaxed, maybe it was a bit of relief but we’ve been playing a long time and that can’t happen. Give (West Deptford) credit they didn’t back down and they came at us. I think we lost our shape a bit and that’s on me as the sweeper. But we got the win.”
With 12 minutes left in the half, West Deptford’s aggressiveness caught up to it as a counter attack left junior midfielder Tommy Mollis with an opening in the middle of the field. So open that his shot from 24 yards caught everyone off guard as it hit the left panel with 12:27 left in the first half.
“I’ll admit I was so open I was a little worried I would miss,” Mollis said with a smile. “But you can’t over think it and I’m happy we got that 2-0 lead.”
The goal deflated West Deptford which played a lackluster second half and failed to challenge for a goal that may have made the game more interesting.
“We didn’t play well,” Jakubowski said. “I think we let our emotions get to us, but we can learn from this game.”
“This is a game where we learned a lot about ourselves,” Nixon said. “We’re still getting to know each other. These kids have played together growing up, but it’s still different at this level and you have to learn how to play together. Tonight we did that and, especially in the second half, we played better as a team.”
Haddonfield 2 - 0 -- 2
West Deptford 0 - 0 -- 0
Tommy Mollis, Max Norton.