By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER — With the score tied at 1-1 in the middle of the second half and Salem seizing momentum with the game tying goal, the Gloucester boys soccer team needed somebody to take over. That person was the most dynamic player on the field; senior captain Calvin Kipruto.
Kipruto’s two second half goals in a 13 second span, his second and third goals of the evening, took the life out of Salem and led Gloucester to a 3-1 win at New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium. The Fishermen bounced back nicely from a 3-1 loss at Beverly on Friday and improve to 4-2-1 on the year.
“Calvin led the way for us tonight by showing his composure,” Gloucester head coach Armando Marnoto said. “All three goals were beautiful goals and he really set the tone of the rest of the team.”
Switching back and forth from midfield to striker, Kipruto showed off a wide variety of skills in the win. With just over two minutes to play in the first half the senior captain showed off his speed taking a pass from Ryan Belanger, splitting two Salem defensemen and finding the back of the net to the far post at the goal keepers left to make it 1-0 Fishermen at the break.
After Salem’s Jonathan Crimble tied the score at 1-1 with 18 minutes left after the Witches’ aggressive offensive strategy paid off thanks to some nice crosses in the area, Kipruto quickly quelled the visitors momentum.
Just 1:45 after Crimble’s tying goal Kipruto struck again with a nifty header that he popped over the head of a hard charging Salem keeper to make it 2-1. Cody Eaton had the assist on the goal. Just 13 seconds later Kipruto struck again racing through the middle of the field once again splitting the defense and finding the back of the net with a blast from just inside the box to cap the scoring at 3-1.
“He transitioned from striker to middy tonight and most of his offense came from the midfield,” Marnoto said. “He made some nice runs up the middle which forced Salem to crash the middle of the field and it opened lanes for him.”
With a two goal lead Marnoto moved Kipruto back to sweeper along side Alex Dahlmer, who had an outstanding game, over the final 10 minutes to shut down Salem’s long ball attack and preserve the win.
Marnto was quick to praise the play of Dahlmer at sweeper as he had good success shadowing the dangerous Crimble. Reserve John Whitmore also turned in a strong defensive effort helping slow down the aggressive Witches offense in the second half.
“Alex Dahlmer had a big game for us on defense,” Marnoto said. “(Crimble) was very formidable and Alex did a good job on him. It was nice to see a reserve like John Whittmore do a great job plugging up the middle too.”
Marnoto also stressed the importance of his team getting off to a good start this week as the Fishermen have two more games on Thursday and Friday against tough Revere and St. Mary’s teams. The Fishermen are hoping Tuesday’s win will carry over into the next two matches.
“This was a nice bounce back from Friday’s loss,” Marnoto said. “We told the team to come out with focus, maturity and character and they showed it tonight, especially in the second half.”