Winnisquam’s Tom Ryan (right) goes hard to the ball along with Inter-Lakes’ Ryan Welch during first half action in Meredith on Sept. 5. The visiting Bears fell, 3-0, in Division III play. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 10, 2012MEREDITH – In a battle of two teams likely to be jostling for position in the Division III standings throughout the fall, it was host Inter-Lakes High School that came out on top on Sept. 5.
The Lakers got two goals from Travis Manville and tallied all three times in the second half to pick up a solid 3-0 win over visiting Winnisquam Regional High School in boys' soccer action on the turf in Meredith.
"It's big for us because we only play them once so to get a win is important for down the road," said I-L coach Steve Welch, who played at Winnisquam during his high school days. "We just want to compete with all the teams in the area so we'll take the win today, move on and get ready for the rest of the regular season."
Winnisquam coach Jason Welch watched as his team gave up three goals after halftime, and struggled to get much going on the offensive end. The Bears had several breakaways on I-L goalkeeper Jonah Steiss, but couldn't convert.
"It was just one of those games that got away from us," said the Winnisquam head man. "We lost the ball in transition. I thought our defense kind of fell apart. The diamond didn't work, we got out of sorts there. The first half we used the whole field but in the second half we got away from it."
Indeed, the first half saw strong play from both sides. Trevor Colby put a nice pass in front for the Lakers early in the first half, but no one was home and Winnisquam managed to clear the ball. Winnisquam's Sean Connor got in alone on a breakaway with 24 minutes left in the first, but his shot was wide.
Winnisquam midfielder Nick Welch had several opportunities in the opening half, his best coming in the waning minutes when Steiss came out to make a sliding save on a loose ball. I-L counterpart Sean Mussen was all over the place as well, as he created numerous scoring chances with his speed but the Lakers went scoreless into intermission.
"I think finishing for us is going to be a big challenge this year," said Steve Welch. "Take the Friday game for example, we outplayed Mascoma (Valley in a 2-0 loss) but when you don't put the ball in the back of the net it doesn't matter."
The Bears have had similar problems on the offensive end so far, forcing coach Jason Welch to try some different combinations up front. Sharpshooters Lukas Welch and Cullen Robinson are now playing collegiately at Colby-Sawyer College, and the Bears have tinkered with Connor, who is the team's normal starting goalkeeper up at forward.
"I know we're struggling offensively right now. We're just not getting it done," said Welch. "I'm a little disappointed. We need to find ourselves. We've got a lot of young players we're trying to develop and they need to get going a little bit. And the older guys need to start showing some leadership."
Manville finally put the Lakers on the board with 26 minutes left in the second half. The center midfielder took a one-time pass from Mussen and blasted a left-footed shot into the upper left corner of the goal, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Manville would double the lead just six minutes later, as he flicked a well-placed shot over Winnisquam goalie Michael Matcheski from about 20 yards away to put I-L ahead 2-0.
"He's been like that all season," said Steve Welch of Manville. "He's been a very solid competitor in the middle of the field. It's tough with center mid because it's a lot of offense, a lot of defense and you don't really get much time to settle. I thought he brought a lot of energy to the field which is what we needed. And at that point, what we needed was somebody to step up and get us a goal and that's what he did. That's why he's the leader on the field, because he can make changes on the field for us and bring experience and leadership to a team that kind of needs it at time."
The Lakers added a third and final goal with nine minutes to play, closing out the 3-0 victory in solid fashion.
"Once the first one went in, things started to move a little bit quicker and then two and three followed," said Welch of his team's big win. "It helped take the pressure off big time. Now we can relax a little bit and play our game and not rush, rush, rush forward. Overall I was happy with their performance."
The teams don't meet again this year. In their lone meeting of 2011, Winnisquam was on the winning end of a 3-0 game.