Moving Ian Anderson from goalkeeper to midfielder didn’t produce the expected results for the South Effingham boys soccer team Tuesday night.
Without the 6-foot-3 Anderson, one of the more experienced Mustangs on coach Paul Richards’ roster, in net, the Benedictine Cadets tacked on two killer goals in the latter stages and beat South Effingham 4-1 at The Corral.
“That was disappointing,” Richards said.
His defense’s inexperience — the Mustangs started two freshmen and a sophomore in front of Anderson — showed, their coach said.
“Though you can’t necessarily fault the freshmen,” Richards added. “I had no one who played defense for me last year. They have to learn a lot about angles. They have to learn how to go 80 minutes.”
The teams were tied 1-1 at halftime before the Cadets went ahead for good midway through the second half. Seconds after BC keeper Daniel Fischer turned away James McGahee after a long run that began at midfield, the Cadets struck for the deciding goal. Anderson got a piece of Patrick Kinsella’s shot, but the rebound deflected to the Cadets’ Carson Villa, who scored into an open net with Anderson not able to get back into position.
In a matter of 21 seconds, the Mustangs went from a shot at going ahead to falling behind to stay.
“This game is so emotional in terms of momentum,” Richards said. “You have to believe you can win and to score goals is important. We have to be able to do that for 80 minutes. Physically, we’re OK. Mentally, we’re still learning how to play a full match.”
Isaiah Broomfield, manning a post on a Benedictine corner kick attempt, kicked out
a Cadets shot from in front to keep the Mustangs within a goal four minutes later.
Anderson followed with a pair of sliding stops, once charging out of the 18-yard box to close the distance and then recovering to repeat the feat on a shot from 10 yards out. Anderson kept the Mustangs within striking distance, stopping Constantine Varlagas from 8 yards out as he turned and fired from point-blank range.
Richards took Anderson out and put him in the field with 9 minutes to go, but with 3:14 to play, junior striker Felipe Carbonell continued his sterling play, with his left-footed shot from the middle of the box finding the right-hand side of the net for a 3-1 lead.
Carbonell added the clincher not long after being denied on a brilliant save.
“We still don’t match up with some of the better skill teams,” Richards said. “We played OK. That was a 2-1 game until I decided to pull Ian.”
Part of the challenge for his young team isn’t so much trying to outrun or outmuscle the opposition to Richards.
“This game is so much more intense than what they are used to,” he said. “They play well in stretches.”
It wasn’t a good opening of the game for the Mustangs. Carbonell scored his first goal, and the first tally of the game, barely a minute into the match. He beat Anderson to a loose ball in the box, and with the keeper well away from the net, he lured Anderson further out and then buried a right-footed shot into the back of the net.
But the young Mustangs didn’t wait long to get back into the game. Fischer couldn’t corral Jimmy Fletcher’s low corner kick, and Marshall Butler pounced on it, tapping it in to tie the game at 1-1.
Anderson’s powerful leg nearly put the Mustangs ahead midway through the first half. His direct kick from 70 yards out took a big bounce past the defense, and Fischer leaped to tip it over the net before it slipped in behind him.
The win put BC at 3-2 in Region 3-AAA and 3-5-1 overall. South Effingham fell to 3-6 on the season and 1-4 in the region. But there are still postseason hopes for the Mustangs — as long as they beat Liberty County again when the two teams meet again April 4 in Hinesville.
“As long we have the opportunity to reach the region playoffs, we have the opportunity to make the state playoffs,” Richards said. “We are a better team than we were a month ago and I’m hoping to be a better team a month from now when it means something.”