Magicians come up short against visiting Gloucester in classic battle

The Marblehead High boys soccer team (4-8-3) hosted Northeastern Conference (NEC) rival Gloucester (10-2-1) on Oct. 17. From the opening whistle, the home team was able to control the flow of the game, only to lose a close, competitive contest, 3-1.

Marblehead boys soccer goalie Rory Zampese leaps high in the air to punch the ball away during a game against Gloucester on Oct. 17. COURTESY PHOTO / RICH BIBBINS

The underdog Magicians played with confidence as the aggressor, who created early chances with runs on the left side and through the heart of the Gloucester defense. They were also patient and disciplined, using the width of the pitch to their full advantage before attacking deep. The team’s strength and size were also utilized with a formidable attacking front of James Achterhof and Max Dressel. It was a promising start.

Though the first half was largely quiet on the scoreboard, Marblehead’s offense was set in motion on a foul by Gloucester. Midfielder Luke Miller chipped the ball from the 28 into traffic, before center-middie London McDonald knocked a header to Ilan Druker. Druker then chested it, followed by hitting a beautiful volley that bent perfectly toward the right side of the frame. However, Gloucester’s goalie was able to deflect it away, only to see Marc Grazado bear down quickly to put the rebound over the line to give his teammates a 1-0 lead.

Several minutes later, the Marblehead boys were on the brink of increasing that lead. Druker brought the ball to the left corner, outmaneuvered his defender, before crossing it to striker Max Dressel, who was just inches away from putting Gloucester into a deep hole. The tandem was able to keep the Gloucester defense on edge throughout the closing minutes of the half, but to no avail.

But then with only 3:30 remaining in the half, the game turned on an egregious referee’s call. The Fishermen sent a long ball 40 yards downfield after a foul, prompting the Marblehead goalie to rightfully leap high in the box to block it. With arms extended vertically, the ball was punched cleanly and justifiably out of danger, but an ensuing collision prompted the referee to whistle the play dead and award Gloucester a penalty kick. Coaches, players and fans alike were outraged and stunned, since goaltenders have the right to fight for the ball anywhere within the box. Despite the protests, the decision stood, and the Fishermen converted to tie the game, thus killing Marblehead’s momentum as the game moved into halftime.

But once the second half got underway, Marblehead maintained its composure and continued to

attack. The intensity increased for both teams as each looked for opportunities to seize control. They also both displayed resilience in their respective defensive zones. But it was Gloucester that eventually capitalized on its chances. A breakaway by the visitors through the middle pulled the Marblehead defensive line toward the attacker, leaving the left side exposed, where a Gloucester forward sprinted toward the far post, before getting the ball and scoring the go-ahead goal. The visitors then added an insurance goal to win the game, 3-1.

This game was every bit the supercharged contest that was predicted when the schedule first came out.

The Fishermen were able to avenge last year’s loss to Marblehead, as it continued the tradition of pitting brothers-in-law coaches Elmer Magana (Marblehead) and Armando Marmoto (Gloucester) against each other.

Though physicality was a factor — Gloucester finished the game with three yellow cards and Marblehead had one — it did not define this match. As the postseason push continues, both teams appear to be peaking at the right time.

Marblehead lost to the Tanners 1-0 on Oct. 19, before finishing up the regular season against Masco on Oct. 23 at home 6 p.m., Winthrop on Oct. 26 on the road at 5:45 p.m. and Melrose on Oct. 27 on the road at 7:15 p.m.

Troy Miller supplied the content for this report.

Joe McConnell | + posts

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