Moore-Led Maple Grove Rolls Past Chautauqua Lake
MAYVILLE — Another year goes by and the Maple Grove Red Dragons boys soccer team continues to reign supreme atop the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Central Division.
The second-place Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds remained one of the few teams with a mathematical probability to chase down the first-place Red Dragons, but on Monday those odds shrunk down to almost nothing as Maple Grove picked up the 4-0 victory in Mayville.
“They’re peaking at the right time,” Maple Grove assistant coach Cara Abbey said. “When it gets to October you want to have all the pieces together as you move into the final league games and into playoffs.”
The difference in the game was what side of the pitch Eli Moore was playing for and thankfully for the Red Dragons (9-2-1, 7-0-0) he has spent the last four seasons with them. Moore picked up two more goals and an assist while drawing constant coverage that opened up chances for his teammates.
“Eli’s performance speaks for itself,” Abbey said about Moore. “He’s dominant on the field. This is his fourth year playing and second as a captain. His experience is just so obvious when he’s got seven guys on him and he can still dribble through them.”
Moore first got the Red Dragons on the board by quickly adjusting to a Keegan Rishel pass and sending a screamer of a shot from outside the box to the top right corner in the ninth minute for a 1-0 lead.
The Red Dragons continued to try and find Moore for looks in the box, which opened up an opportunity for Gavin Rodgers to score his first goal of the season. On a throw-in near the box, most of the Thunderbirds’ coverage was going toward Moore, but Matt Trim used all his strength perfectly launch the ball onto the foot of Rodgers, who directed the ball into the net for the 2-0 lead.
With Maple Grove dominating possession, the Chautauqua Lake’s (5-2-1, 3-2-1) chances came mostly on the counterattack and in less abundance, but that didn’t stop the Thunderbirds from being within reach of tying the game.
The final chance of the first half came with about 25 seconds left with Chautauqua Lake getting two great shots off toward Maple Grove goalkeeper Nathan Cresanti, who turned aside the first shot. He bobbled the rebound which almost proved disastrous, but he reacted quickly enough to stay in front and keep the ball out.
Four minutes into the second half, Chautauqua Lake found itself with another breakaway, but Cresanti fended it off again. Among the mad scramble in the box he managed to make two point-blank saves that kept the clean sheet.
So instead of Chautauqua Lake pulling level at 2-2 early in the second half, it still trailed Maple Grove by two goals.
“I think we had a lot of chances,” Chautauqua Lake head coach Connor Barnes said. “We had two instances where the ball was practically in the goal and their goalie made a tremendous save each time. I think if we could have scored at least one goal it would have put a little bit more extra pressure on them.”
Cresanti’s strong nine-save performance for Maple Grove was matched on the other end of the pitch and shortly after the Cresanti heroics, Chautauqua Lake’s Brendan Klossner made the biggest of his 13 saves in net.
In the 48th minute, Maple Grove was awarded a penalty after a foul in the box and with it came the chance to really put the game away. Moore stepped up to take the shot and decided to go left, which was bad for Klossner who went the opposite way. Luckily, Moore’s shot hit the post. The post then decided to give Moore another chance as it bounced right back to his foot, but by then Klossner was getting back up and made the diving save on the second attempt to keep the deficit at 2-0.
“Anytime he makes a save against a team like Maple Grove it’s a good save,” Barnes said about Klossner. “They have a lot of guys who can really rip shots and rip precise shots. I think he did a really good job tonight.”
That scoreline stood for just a few more minutes when on another rush toward goal, instead of settling the ball of himself, Moore flicked a header over the defense into the box for a streaking Jonah Foley to score.
In the 64th minute, Moore capped off his three-point night with another goal, this time with Foley making the assist to go up 4-0.
The Red Dragons can wrap up the league title with a win against Silver Creek/Forestville on Wednesday.