Full Strength

With Lineup Healthy, Randolph Wins Battle Of 2018 Champs

Randolph’s Kaleb Steward (6) kicks the ball away from Southwestern’s McKay Young (13) as the Cardinals’ Gage VanRensselaer (3) looks on during their nonleague game at Weeden Park on Monday. P-J photo by Jay Young

RANDOLPH — Now that Randolph boys soccer coach Dave Levandowski finally has his team healthy, things appear to be trending in the right direction after a resilient 3-2 win over Southwestern in nonleague play on Monday afternoon.

Despite allowing a goal in the first five minutes of play, the Cardinals (2-2) were able to rely on their own offensive production through the first 40 minutes and weather a late push by the Trojans (0-3) to pick up their second win of the year.

“This is really our first game with the lineup we want to play going forward,” Levandowski said. “We made some changes at half and I thought we did a better job in the second half defensively.”

In the third minute of play Southwestern opened up the scoring off a rush as Max Vaughn was able to draw out Randolph netminder Cameron Finch. With space open on the opposite side of the 18-yard box, Vaughn hit a cross to Marcus Kautzman for a finish in close to open things up.

Moments later the Trojans came close to doubling up their lead, as Vaughn hit a high ball to Michael Carnes that was headed into danger before being cleared away.

Southwestern’s Marcus Kautzman (6) attempts to shield the ball from Randolph’s Bryson Rozler (11) during Monday’s nonleague game at Weeden Park in Randolph. P-J photo by Jay Young

“I actually thought we would have been a little bit better defensively but we gave up two goals in the first 15 minutes,” Levandowski said. “It was a bad start for us. The guys showed some guts, some composure and battled back.”

Nine minutes into the game the Cardinals were able to get their offense going on a rush that was started by a good pass from Bryson Rozler. Rozler found Marcus Evans in the open field, and the senior forward was able to rifle a shot past goalkeeper Declan Brown as he charged out to try and cut off the angle.

The back-and-forth chances continued through the first 10 minutes of play, with the Trojans taking their lead back in the 11th minute.

Carnes would make it 2-1, ripping a shot off the hand of Finch that trickled over the goal line before it could be reached.

Once again looking at a one-goal deficit, the Cardinals wasted no time getting back to work on offense with a series of good looks.

Rozler would rip a shot high of the Trojan cage before Kaleb Steward got in on the action with back-to-back shots, with the first falling wide right.

Missing the mark on that try, Steward made the most of his next chance, taking a pass from Ethan Shields that was finished off with a low strike at the 24th minute.

“I think we did a nice job in transition when we found the pockets inside their defense and got the ball into our target player,” Levandowski said. “We did a really nice job of then distributing the ball out to the players who were out wide. We just finished a few, it was so back and forth, that could have easily been a 7-6 game.”

More good passing by Rozler would set the Cardinals up for their third and final goal as Evans received a clean crossing ball for an easy finish shortly before halftime.

Maintaining the offensive pressure for Southwestern was Simon Pirrello with a header just over the top bar before half and another chance on a rush in the opening seconds of the second period.

“I thought it was going to be a close game, they are Section VI champs. I knew that they had a couple players, additional players this year,” Southwestern coach Jason Deering said. “We’re so close, we just have to have those shots hit the back of the net. That was probably the hardest we’ve played in a half, that second half. We need to be having that intensity all the way through.”

Over the course of the final 40 minutes Southwestern would have more clean looks from the likes of Kautzman, McKay Young with a shot that was ripped wide, Spencer Kane with a shot too high, and Vaughn with another try that just missed the mark high.

“We controlled play for most of the game but then we turned it over and we’re not able to stop anyone’s counter-attacks right now and that is putting a lot of pressure on our defense,” Deering said.