Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- Two goals on either side of halftime were enough for Brattleboro to beat Arlington Memorial High School 2-0 in the consolation game of the John James tournament at Mount Anthony Union High School.
"You always hope to win," Arlington coach Todd Wilkins said. "But you play in these tournaments to learn and to get better. Today, we learned some things."
John Curtis struck first for the Colonels, collecting a loose ball on a corner before tucking the ball inside the left post with just over 17 minutes left in the first half.
In the second half, Jack Maples needed both posts to put his goal in after an interception put him in on goal.
But while the Eagles were outgunned against a bigger Colonels side, Wilkins said he was impressed with how his players fought.
"They went out and fought today. They had chances. You'd like a few more, but these are good teams we are playing against.
"What I like about these guys is, a 2-0 loss would sometimes be a victory against these schools. But it wasn't for these guys, they wanted to play and win."
Offensively for the Eagles, freshmen Jared Lacoste and Alex Paustian, along with sophomore Lucas Stroffoleno, tried to take it to the Colonels defense. Even with a heigh disadvantage across the front line, Lacoste, Paustain, and Stroffoleno tried using their heads to flick balls onto one another's feet, and the three used their slight frames to try and wiggle around players.
In the early going, junior Ryan Spencer had a shot saved by the Brattleboro keeper, then Lacoste had three straight chances where the shots either went just wide or were deflected away by a defender.
At the other end, sweeper Peter Macksey and goalie DJ Jennings had to work hard to keep the scoreline low.
Macksey often times found himself as the last line of defense, and he was able to use his frame to nudge Brattleboro players off the ball and make the clearence.
In net, Jennings plucked several promising balls for Brattleboro out of the air on corner kicks and crosses, and was also called into action on a play where Brattleboro's Conner Elliott-Knaggs was charging in on goal.
In the second half, Arlington kept trying to push forward to find a goal, while Elliott-Knaggs put one shot off the crossbar.
In the closing stages of the game, Paustian was unlucky when he scooped a shot just over the crossbar, while at the other end Macksey had to make a lung-busting recovery run to clear the ball away from Leon Ogden after Ogden had gotten around Jennings.
After two losses in two days, Wilkins said that he hopes his young Eagles team can take away a few lessons from the James tournament. Most notably, what it takes to play at this high of a level.
"They learn how to play against kids with this speed, this strength, and these skills," Wilkins said. "When you get into league play, if you put these same principles against a team of less caliber, you can shine and become better."
Brattleboro moves to 2-1 on the season, while Arlington falls to 2-2.