Boys soccer stagnates against winless Walpole



Boys varsity soccer (1-5-4) drew 0-0 Thursday, Oct. 6 against a winless Walpole (0-4-4).

Despite an unseasonably warm day at Skyline Field, boys varsity soccer (1-5-4) failed to improve their playoff chances on Thursday, Oct. 6 against a winless Walpole (0-4-4). Both sides appeared entirely disjointed at times and the game lacked energy and decisiveness, resulting in a scoreless tie.

The match started promisingly for both teams as an early dead-ball chance saw a Walpole header glance over the bar shortly after kickoff. Only 30 seconds later, Brookline returned the favor as the opposition’s goalkeeper fumbled a routine cross and gave the onrushing attack a half-look at goal.

Those early flashes soon became distant memories as the game settled. Neither side was able to build up momentum, as any forward progress was quickly stifled by a bad touch or a loose pass. It became a cage match, far from beautiful soccer.

In the 23rd minute, an inviting cross from junior and forward Eamon Boshell nearly broke the game wide open, with the onrushing forward freshman Nico Liteplo only just missing the target. Though not the strike Brookline was looking for, it seemed like a success the team could build off of.

Instead, the home side settled into a familiar pattern of wasteful long balls and a lack of attacking creativity. Their lines appeared out of sync with the link between defense, midfield and forward almost nonexistent. At times, the middle three seemed to disappear entirely, getting lost in a sea of bodies huddled around the center line. Brookline was rarely able to generate the kind of interplay that could break the game open, especially against a Walpole side that is enduring a difficult season.

When they did, the chances flowed. In the 33rd minute, a perfectly weighted ball over the top set senior forward Max Luby on a foot-race with the Walpole goalkeeper. Only an impressive save preserved his clean sheet, though it left avoiding a nasty collision with Luby off the table.

As the halftime whistle sounded, neither side seemed much closer to a goal than they did at kickoff. A mix of solid defensive play and offensive woes had, so far, resulted in an all too tame 40 minutes. As with any footballing affair, however, a crucial spark was only one good move away.

Brookline began the second frame positively when Boshell yet again delivered an inch-perfect corner into the six-yard box but failed to connect with a blue shirt. Minutes later, Luby let loose a set piece that grazed over the bar.

The home side continued to stream forward, with senior midfielder Sam King and Liteplo combining to send Luby through on goal in the 54th minute. Luby delivered an accurate strike with his weak foot.

From then on, Brookline chances were few and far between, and the first half slog returned. In the 60th minute, a game of pinball nearly put the visitors up 1-0, with shot after shot bouncing in every directions besides into the back of the net.

From then until the final whistle, Walpole generated chance after chance, with a looping header in the 79th minute seeming to defy physics and failing to spoil junior goalkeeper Jackson Magee’s clean sheet.

As the referee pointed to his watch and the Brookline boys saluted fans, the disappointment on their faces was evident, and they were lucky the result didn’t turn from bad to worse late on.

After the match, King said that strong team defense and the clean sheet it brought was a major positive but the entire team needs more energy and confidence from kickoff to start converting in front of the net.

“I want to contribute to the team any way I can, doing my part for the Brookline soccer program that brought me up,” King said.

Senior midfielder Niko Sever-Walter said the team has made mental improvements in recent weeks.

“In previous games, when the competition got tough, we put our heads down and stopped playing,” Sever-Walter said. “It’s easy to turn on each other when you are losing but I think a major positive from today’s game is that we continued to play for each other.”

Sever-Walter said that the bond the team has formed since the beginning of the season has helped them through a tough run of games.

“We are developing a connection that translates onto the field,” Sever-Walter said. “I think today’s game really exemplified that and helped us make it a really intense match.”