MANCHESTER-- Manchester Essex Regional High School made sure it had a legitimate home field advantage Friday afternoon at Hyland Field when the boys soccer team took on Maimonides in the Division 3 North Preliminary Round.
With the contest kicking off at an odd start time (12:30 p.m.), school officials allowed the student body to attend the game during school hours and root on the Hornets.
With the crowd in its side, No. 16 Manchester Essex came out on fire burying No. 17 Maimonides early with two goals in the first five minutes en route to a 4-0 win.
“It was a nice result today,” Hornets head coach Rob Bilsbury said. “It was good to have the home crowd here and awesome of the administration to let them come to the game. It made a difference in our energy.”
With the win Manchester Essex (8-7-4) now moves on to the Division 3 North First Round where it will travel to No. 1 seed Boston International (13-3) on Sunday (6:00 p.m.).
Midfielder Will Nadai put the Hornets on the board in the fourth minute on a strong individual effort beating a Maimonides defender and scoring on a bad angle shot where he spun the ball into the goal despite the fact that the ball never left the turf.
Nadai’s goal proved to be all the Hornets would need but they gave themselves some insurance just a minute later when senior captain Liam Aldrich scored from point blank range on a shot that the Maimonides goal keeper would certainly love to come back.
“It was nice to take care of business early,” Bilsbury said. “It’s always scary when it’s 0-0 for a while. We took care of that early and made sure (Maimonides) didn’t hang around.”
The Hornets head coach also praised the play of Nadai, who at center midfielder is called upon to control the middle of the field and help out on the defensive end. Not only did Nadai score, he prevented the Maimonides offense from recording a shot on goal. Manchester Essex goal keeper Chris Xavier did not need to make a save in the win and Maimonides put one shot on goal, a non-threatening shot with the Hornets back ups in the game in the waning minutes.
“Will was really solid today defending the ball and moving the ball up the field,” Bilsbury said. “As he goes we go. When he’s moving the ball and switching the field we are tough to beat. Plus as we saw today he can take on a defender one-on-one and make something happen, and he did all this playing sick.”
Freshman George Lantz gave the Hornets a 3-0 lead just before halftime putting home a pass from Parker Edington. Early in the second half the Hornets struck again with a goal from Tao Sardonicus in the 46th minute to cap the scoring at 4-0.
Manchester Essex now shifts its attention to Boston International, the No. 1 seed in the Division 3 North State Tournament. While the team’s records indicate a mismatch, 8-7-4 for Manchester Essex, 13-3 for Boston International, the game looks to be anything but.
Boston International has not had to deal with the gauntlet that is the Cape Ann League like Manchester Essex, which makes records irrelevant.
Bilsbury is expecting a tough game from the No. 1 seed and says his team needs to keep playing its brand of soccer.
“We only know a little bit about them but we know enough to know they’re good,” Bilsbury said. “We need to keep playing our game, possess the ball and make smart passes. We are playing good soccer right now and we have been in win or go home mode for a couple of weeks now. It’s going to be a battle on Sunday.”