Prep takes over in second half, downs CM

·2 min read

Sep. 23—DANVERS — It was a strange game, with the first half played in pouring rain and second half in sunshine.

The St. John's Prep soccer team had plenty of opportunities to score early, but couldn't finish or convert six corners in the first 40 minutes Thursday afternoon. Visiting Catholic Memorial, led by senior goalie Tristan Storey, turned aside everything the Eagles threw at him. The upstart Knights were winning 50/50 balls and doing everything they could to keep the contest scoreless.

Eventually, the Eagles put home two goals over the final 18 minutes of play to prevail, 2-0, and remain unbeaten at 5-0-1.

"That's the best CM team I've seen. I'm so glad they're competitive,," said Prep head coach Dave Crowell.

"This game was a learning experience for us. We were complacent in the first half and got outworked," he admitted. "Maybe our guys thought they were going to roll over them. I told them at halftime I wasn't happy with the way we were playing. They listened and were much better positionally in the second half."

The Eagles, who dominated play, are led by their 10 seniors and are very deep, with both speed and talent. They patiently waiting for their best opportunities and were finally able to put CM (now 1-4-1) away.

Junior midfielder Jake Vana was set up by senior middies Michael Bertinato and Callum Rigby for the afternoon's first goal. He beat Storey with a low shot into the left corner that the keeper had no chance to save.

"This was a wakeup call for us," said Vana, who is also a stellar hockey and lacrosse player at St. John's. "Bertinato crossed it to me, and I happened to be in the open spot to get a good shot off."

Rigby, a captain, crossed the ball over to junior forward Graham Kramer, who was free in the middle, to double the Prep's lead. He drilled a low shot into the left corner past a diving Storey with under three minutes remaining.

"Yianni (Andrikopoulos) didn't have to make a lot of saves (3)," Rigby said of his own goalkeeper, "but he came up with a huge one when it was a 1-0 game. Our defense played really well in front of him, breaking up chances before they were able to get a shot off."

Andrikopoulos denied CM captain Jaylin Rainford point blank on the Knights' best bid to tie it up in the closing minutes.

"I wasn't pleased with the way we started out, but we improved so much as the game went on," said Crowell, his squad 3-0-1 in Catholic Conference play. "We had been struggling to finish, but in the second half we took the game over."

Contact Jean DePlacido @JeanDePlacidoSN

Contact Jean DePlacido @JeanDePlacidoSN