Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- Confidence.
It is a buzzword that Mount Anthony Union High School boys soccer coach Mike Molloy has been preaching all season.
And in the team's Homecoming game against Hartford, the team showed off its confidence to win 3-2 on Friday afternoon.
"I think the win for us was facing adversity and fighting back," Molloy said. "We knew it was going to be a good team. We knew it would be a battle. To go up, and then tie, then go up, then tie, then go up and win, that is huge for our confidence. It is all in the heart."
And heart was key on the day.
To open the game, Hartford came out attack. Within the first minute, Brandon Cornelius got in on goal only for MAU goalie Patrick Cody to come off of his line and force Cornelius to shoot wide. Moments later, and Jed Sass put a free kick into the box that Tanner Wilson got a head on, only to send it wide. A few minutes after that, and Hartford saw another ball come into the box, only for Cody to smother and clear the danger.
"We had three good chances in the first five minutes to put it away," Hartford coach Steven Sass said. "But we weren't that good today."
After the intial outburst, the teams settled into the game and traded chances. Hartford's Connor Brooks got in on goal, only for Owen Page, filling in at the back for a sick Isaac Salem, to track back and clear the ball.
"I thought with Isaac out...Owen dropped back today and played well, he adjusted to the situation well today," Cody said. "Nate Durfree stepped up and gave good minutes, and Luke [Keenan] has been a real solid player all year."
Next up was MAU's Brad Anair, who let off a shot only for a Hartford defender to block.
The first goal would come with just over 12 minutes to play in the half.
On a corner kick, Anair swung the ball into the box and onto the foot of Dylan Prazak. Prazak took a shot, which bounced off of a defender and back into the mess of bodies. From there, the ball took a bounce off of a Hartford defender, and went into the Hartford net for an own goal.
"We pumped them up with confidence," Sass said. "They took a goal and we were sitting around watching."
But Hartford would respond almost instantly.
On the restart, Hartford was awarded a free kick for a handball. Jed Sass stepped up to take it. Swinging through the ball, Sass put his shot inside the near post and beyond the reach of Cody to make it 1-1.
But the Patriots would not go into halftime with a tie game.
Two minutes after the two goals, Marcus LaFlamme found himself in on goal. From less than six yards out, LaFlamme ripped a shot that Hartford goalie Aaron Parker was able to parry away and back into play. But Martin Ftacek was waiting, and he stabbed the rebound home to make it 2-1 going into the break.
In the second, Anair would see a trio of chances pop up in the early going only for his shots to go just over. The first was off a pass from Nathan Blue, the second a cross from LaFlamme, and the third a cross from Ftacek.
With all three shots missed, it looked like Hartford might find an advantage.
And they would, if only for a moment.
Hartford started pressing high after the Anair chances. Sass would put a free kick on net, only for Cody to go full stretch and make the save. Then Brooks danced his way into the pnealty area, but Cody was able to clear the ball away again. But the third time was the charm for Hartford. On a corner, John Lewis put a cross into the area that Mitchell Simmons was able to head home to make it 2-2.
But Anair was not done yet.
After Blue was awarded a free kick for the Patriots, Anair stepped up to take the shot. Having already put two free kicks into the goal this season, Anair took another shot at goal from about 20 yards out, just to the left of the circle at the top of the penalty area.
His shot went up over the wall, down onto the line, off of Parker's hands and into the goal.
"I think he needed to make up for it," Molloy said "He had a couple of golden opportunities he usually puts on goal, but he put them over today. He is as technical and composed as we want him to be."
Hartford's best chance at an equalizer would come through Brooks, but his shot on a breakaway was saved by Cody.
The Patriots move to 4-2-0 on the year with the win, while Hartford moves to 3-2-0.