By Nathan Mayberg
Fallsburg October 6, 2006 The Fallsburg Comets combined an unrelenting offensive fury with a stubborn defense to control the ball and defeat the visiting Chester Hambletonians, 1-0, on Tuesday in a non-league soccer game.
The lone goal was scored by Fallsburg’s Jose Aguila with his left foot in front of the net after a direct kick by Bill Miller went off teammate Darius Buckner in the second half of action. The ball went by Chester’s goalkeeper Jared Gottlieb, who did everything right and more during the match, but had little chance on this play.
Fallsburg improved to 3-8 on the season, while Chester fell to 2-5.
It was largely due to Gottlieb that the score was not more lopsided, as he recorded 13 saves in the match.
The setup by Miller was the second great setup he made in the contest. The junior center midfielder had a great corner kick in the first half that nearly resulted in a goal, if not for a brilliant save by Gottlieb.
The Comets controlled the ball for much of the way due to extraordinary efforts by several players. Among them was Erik Santos, perhaps the most talented offensive player on the field. His nonstop hustle dazzled the crowd and he made a number of eye-popping moves around multiple defenders. Several times, he took shots at the goal that went just wide.
Miller displayed a great ability to control the ball and sound decision making.
Kenny Corley barely missed on some long shots which sailed just over the net. He also just missed on a head shot in the early moments of the game.
On the defensive end, Fallsburg’s Joey Sep earned accolades from both coaches for his ability to keep the ball out of his zone, whether it be by his head, his cleats, and by simply being where the ball was kicked.
Buckner was another active player for the Comets on defense. Most noticeable were his long throws from out of bounds. In fact, one of his throws nearly went into the net.
Of course, individual efforts can be meaningless if not melded with teamwork. The Fallsburg squad showed solid passing ability and good communication. They were often quicker with the ball than the Hambletonians.
However, the Chester players did not appear to ever give up, competing hard until the very end. They played nearly as well as the Comets for stretches late in the first half and for larger sections in the second half.
Defender Mike Tevnan was a standout, using his head on the ball in key situations and keeping up with the onslaught of the Fallsburg attack.
Hambletonian seniors Andrew Scavera and Henrique Filho were among the top offensive players.
Clearly, Gottlieb was Chester’s best player. Despite stepping off the field twice due to injury, he was jumping for balls and diving to the ground to stop shots. He kept many would be goal scorers at bay by beating them to loose balls near his net.
For the Comets, the future is looking bright, as they only have four seniors on the roster. Coach Jeremy Levner said the team lost 10 seniors from last season’s squad.
“We played great today,” said Levner, who recently took over the Fallsburg coaching duties. “We dominated. The ball was on their side most of the way.
“It is our second win in a row,” he added. “Hopefully, we can get things rolling from here. We have a lot of good individuals. When we pass the ball and work good as a team, good things happen.”
Levner said his team should have had more goals, but credited Gottlieb with playing a great game in goal.
Levner also gave accolades to Miller, a three-year center midfielder, whom he described as the “glue of our team.”
The coach put a lot of emphasis into his team’s defense as a key to the win.
“I stress defense,” Levner commented. “I take a lot of pride in our defense. I tell the team, the goals will come.”
Chester Coach John Hogan patiently sat down with his team afterwards and went over the lone goal on a board with a marker.
After the game, Hogan said his team “played strong. We didn’t produce enough offense as we would have liked to. The other team held the other one-third of the field well and created more chances.”
Hogan cited the Comets’ time of possession as one of the key reasons for their victory.
Despite the loss, there were some positives in the match. Hogan said his team defended well and kept shots outside the 18-yard box.