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Freshman delivers Bears their first win


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by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers

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Ayden Cushing of Winnisquam and Eli Percey of White Mountains battle for control of the ball in action last week. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
October 13, 2021
TILTON — The Winnisquam boys' soccer team has played well against some pretty good teams as the season has rolled along.

The White Mountains Regional boys came to Tilton on Thursday, Oct. 7, looking to keep the Bears from getting into the win column.

It took until the final minute of the game before a results was reached, as Winnisquam freshman Colby Blackburn scored off a crossing pass from Patrick Goodwin with just 49 seconds to go to give the host Bears the 3-2 win over the Spartans.

"They've been working pretty hard, they're playing really hard, the go to battle every game and are not discouraged despite the record," said Winnisquam coach Tom Osmer. "We've played well against good teams and we've played hard against good teams."

"Unfortunately for us, it's like we don't go into games strong enough," said White Mountains coach Andy Cliché. "We fight back, but we've got to be that way from the opening whistle."

The Bears had the better of the chances early on, getting the first corner of the game. Ayden Cushing, Goodwin and Blackburn had chances for the Bears but could not convert, with Spartan keeper Logan Ames coming up with the saves in the net. The Spartans did get a bid from Brody Labounty, but keeper Jacob Holt was able to make the stop for the Bears. Avery Woodburn also had a shot for the Spartans that Holt stopped.

Labounty sent a nice cross into the box but Lucas Robdau wa there to clear the ball out. Kieran Tobin just missed connecting with Robert Southworth on a bid for the visitors and Kegan Nelson had a shot for the Spartns that was stopped by Holt. Zach St. Onge had a pair of bids for the Bears, with one going over the net and the other stopped by Ames.

The Spartans got a pair of corner kicks and the second one proved fruitful, as Tobin delivered the ball from beyond the top of the box on a perfectly-placed shot for the 1-0 lead with 23:40 to go in the first half. Cushing had a bid stopped by Ames and then Tobin helped out his goalie by clearing out another Cushing bid. Winnisquam had a corner kick chance, but could not convert.

Woodburn sent a shot high over the top for the Spartans and Cushing just missed connecting with St. Onge at the other end. Ari Booth and Cade Wujcik continued to pressure for the Bears and the Spartans got bids from Jude Percey, Eli Percey and Southworth, but they could not convert, with Holt holding tight.

Cushing just missed connecting on a bid into the zone for the Bears, Southworth had a direct kick for the Spartans and Xavier Oakes had a shot for the Spartans that Holt denied.

Inside the final minutes of the first half, the Bears were able to get the game tied, as Wade Fournier converted on a corner to make it 1-1 at the halftime break.

The Spartans had a chance from Labounty early in the second, but Robdau was able to clear it out. Woodburn sent a shot high over the net, while at the other end, Goodwin had a couple of chances, one stopped by the defense and the other stopped by Ames in the Spartan net. The two teams exchanged corners but neither team was able to convert.

With 27:49 to go in the game, the Spartans took the lead, as Labounty broke in behind the defense and was able to fire the ball to the back of the net for the go-ahead goal. Winnisquam battled back with chances from St. Onge, Robdau and Goodwin, but the Spartans answered with bids from Labounty and Southworth. The Bears had a shot from St. Onge just miss the mark on a deflection and the Bears had a corner that was headed wide.

With just more than 11 minutes to go, St. Onge was taken down in the box and the Bears were awarded a penalty kick. Cushing took the kick and buried it for the tying goal. Labounty came back with a couple of good chances for the Spartans as they looked to escape with a win, but his shots were stopped by Holt.

With just 49 seconds to go, Blackburn netted the game-winner on a crossing pass from Goodwin to earn the 3-2 win.

"We haven't been able to get over the hump," said Osmer of his team's early season struggles. "Whatever that thing was that we needed to get the win, they found it today.

"We didn't really do anything different," the Bear coach added. "If there was anything different, there were fewer mistakes.

"Against a quality team, a good opponent, they came from behind," he added. "That showed their mental toughness."

"Penalty kills are killing us," said Cliché, who noted his team has had three PKs against them in the last two games. "That gave them the momentum today.

"We've been fighting (the slow starts) all year," the Spartan coach continued. "We have low numbers, so we use what we have (only two subs were available), and kids sick and hurt made it tougher.

"It's a good bunch of kids," he added. "They have a lot of talent."

Winnisquam is scheduled to host Franklin on Friday, Oct. 15, at 4 p.m., will be hosting Mascoma on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 3:30 p.m. and will be hosting Somersworth on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 4 p.m.

White Mountains is slated to host Littleton on Friday, Oct. 15, at 3:30 p.m. and will visit Profile on Monday, Oct. 18, at 4 p.m. and hosts Inter-Lakes on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 3:30 p.m.

Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or josh@salmonpress.news.

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