Strong team effort as Arlington blanks Jackets

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ARLINGTON — Arlington boys soccer coach Todd Wilkins came into Friday night's game against Windsor a little concerned with his offense. They'd scored a few times, but for the most part, Wilkins' team wasn't finishing, getting the ball into the net.

That concern was assuaged against the Yellowjackets, as the Eagles scored five times in a 5-0 shutout at the Arlington Rec Park.

"The last three games prior to tonight, we struggled to finish, so we've focused on that in practice," Wilkins said. "You have to score goals to win. Defensively, we've been playing well, so it was good to see them distribute the ball better and we got scoring all the way around."

Matt Ritchie got Arlington on the board in the 27th minute with a little luck. Keyshawn King hit a long ball that went off the Windsor goalie's hands, off the crossbar and down to Ritchie, who blasted it in for a 1-0 lead.

"Sometimes we have this habit to push it inside the 18 [yard-box] or the 6 because we're quick," Wilkins said. "It doesn't always work and it makes it easier for the defense to defend you. You need to change it up and have a diverse attack, which we did a good job with tonight."

Seventy-three seconds later, the Eagles doubled the lead when freshman Lewis Whalen got into the teeth of the defense, found a space and fired it past the keeper for his first varsity goal.

"It was good to see multiple guys scoring and getting involved," Wilkins said.

Windsor had a chance to cut the deficit in the final minute of the first half. Arlington goalie Bailey Cross (three saves) came out on a close play and ended up out of position, but a hurried shot went up and over the frame.

"Lane [Nolan] has really stepped into that leadership role at the sweeper [position], and Kolby [Wilkins] at stopper, they are containing and feeding off each other. They've had a really good year, even in games where the offense hasn't been there, we've still play [good] defensively to get wins," Wilkins said. "I'm extremely pleased with our defense."

Arlington's Wil Stewart sealed the game early in the second half, scoring 1:41 into it. He sped past the Windsor defender and hit the ball near post past the diving goalkeeper for a 3-0 advantage.

Stewart added a second goal — his sixth of the season — taking advantage of a ball in front to beat the keeper. Bryce Harrington had the assist on the long pass play from midfield.

"When he's not scoring, he's creating opportunities," Wilkins said. "He's drawing the defender away and opening up one of the other guys, or he's actually in the attack, making the defenders drop to him. On most of our goals, Wil is involved one way or the other, directly or indirectly. He has great speed and great skill."

Jack Lane finished the scoring, moving up from his usual defensive sweeper spot and hitting a lefty shot into the net for the final 5-0 margin.

Arlington is 4-2 and hosts Twin Valley on Monday for the beginning of the John Werner Tournament.

"It was good to rebound on our homefield and get back in the mix with some scoring," Wilkins said.


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