Moultonborough Academy's Tristan Price (10) celebrates with teammates including Andrew Porusta (2) following Price's first goal that broke a scoreless tie en route to a 2-0 victory over host Inter-Lakes in Meredith on Saturday morning. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 22, 2014MEREDITH – All it took was a tiny bit of open space for Tristan Price to bring his side to life.
The Moultonborough Academy senior forward took a feed from partner in crime Andrew Porusta, and a quick touch on the ball inside the 18-yard box enabled him to fire a left-footed shot to the far post that broke a scoreless tie and ultimately led the visiting Panthers to a 2-0 victory over host Inter-Lakes during Homecoming on Saturday morning.
"It took us awhile to adjust to the big field," admitted Price, who also tallied in the waning minutes for an insurance strike. "I saw Andrew on the right wing and he played a perfect ball across. I was able to get a touch with my left (foot) and saw an open part of the net."
The tally came with 19:50 left in the second half of a scoreless contest that saw the two rivals matching each other throughout the pitch. The I-L defense, buoyed by the play of sweeper Trevor Hentz, kept the high-scoring tandem of Price and Porusta off the board up until that point, but the pair broke through for the 1-0 advantage.
"I thought we matched (MA) well for the most part," said I-L head coach Steve Welch. "We had some opportunities on the other end but we weren't able to capitalize. Sometimes that's how the game goes but overall I thought we played well."
MA scored the insurance goal with just 2:08 left in regulation, as defender Aidan Conn played a long free kick up to Price. The crafty forward put one move on his defender and managed to get a shot up high over the diving reach of I-L keeper Jonah Steiss for a 2-0 lead that all but sealed the win.
"We've got some good target players up top in Tristan and Andrew so I always know that if I can get a hold of it, they're going to get chances to score on that type of play," Conn explained.
It was indeed a much-anticipated first regular season meeting between the two rivals. With the Lakers storming out of the gates to a 5-1 record entering Saturday's tilt and the Panthers unbeaten, the stakes were high for the first of two annual contests.
"These games are always competitive," began MA head coach Eric Porusta. "It took a lot of work to get the goals that we did. But we like it, this year is really a challenge playing against Inter-Lakes. Having that game on your schedule, you know it's going to be a game."
"These games are kind of a section of the season in itself," the senior defender said.
I-L forward Marcus Jensen was all over the place for the Lakers, as the speedy striker from Denmark presented a different look for the MA defense to have to deal with.
"It's a different Inter-Lakes team with him," said Conn. "He's kind of our Drew (Swedberg) from a couple years ago. Someone to give the ball to and create things through him. And it's different playing them on this (turf) field. You have to be extra careful."
Both defenses were quite stout on the day, with Conn, Zach Atwell and Eric Dubois powering the Panthers in front of the goalkeeping tandem of Aaron Diamond and TJ Marchand. On the other end, Hentz got to just about every loose ball in front of Steiss for the Lakers, with Ryan Nickerson, Nate Sleeper and Ben Jaques aiding the back line.
"You have to stay physical with (MA)," said Nickerson of the approach. "You have to work hard to keep them contained as best as you can."
The Panthers have always had the ability to score goals, but this year's defense has coach Porusta pleased with the balance his squad possesses.
"We are confident in our ability to score but our defense is as strong as it's ever been," Porusta stated. "Give Inter-Lakes credit though, they did a good job clearing stuff out of their end. Trevor (Hentz) does a great job back there, he wins a lot of balls."
The teams won't wait long to get back at it in the rematch, as the Lakers travel to MA for a 2 p.m. kickoff this Saturday.
"We didn't have a lot of mistakes today so there are only some minor adjustments to make before then," Welch said. "I do like the fact that we see them again just one week later. That'll serve as some motivation for these guys."
The boys' game will follow the girls' contest between the two sides scheduled for 10 a.m.
"We play these guys so many times – during the summer, in scrimmages, during jamborees," began Porusta. "There are no surprises here. All you can do is try and mix it up a bit and throw a new wrinkle or something. But for the most part, both teams know what to expect from the other and it's just a matter of playing your game well."
Moultonborough 2, Inter-Lakes 0
MOULT 0 2—2
I-LAKES 0 0—0
Goals: (MA) Price 2.
Assists: (MA) A. Porusta, Conn.
Shots: Moultonborough 18. Inter-Lakes 11.
Saves: (MA) Diamond 3, Marchand 4. (IL) Steiss 9.