Early goals doom Eagles in John James defeat
BENNINGTON — In the opening round of the 50th annual John James Tournament, Brattleboro got off to a fast start with a pair of goals in the first five minutes.
After that, Arlington played the Colonels even and had the run of play in the final 20 minutes, but the two scores were enough for Brattleboro to grab a 2-1 victory and move on to Saturday's tournament final.
"I think they were a little nervous, it's happened for years," said Arlington coach Todd Wilkins. "We're a small school and we play a Division I school, in their mind, it's bigger school, bigger people. But until they settle and realize they are the same, it's all mental in the [opening] minutes."
Brattleboro took the lead 4:30 in when Nate Lewis took a perfect through ball, ran in on Arlington goalie Linus Bialojan, and scored to make it 1-0.
Thirty seconds later, the Colonels doubled the lead, catching the Eagles napping. Senior Jackson Buettner got an open run down the left side and made the most of it, tallying for a 2-0 lead.
But Arlington re-focused and refused to quit. The Eagles cut the lead in half when Dominic Whalen made a nice run to goal. The first shot was stopped by the Brattleboro goalie, but the rebound was cleaned up by William Moore, his first career varsity goal, with 22:51 left in the first half.
"Will's first career goal, he's fast and a go-getter," Wilkins said. "I'm proud that they fought back down two, they could have folded and rode it out. We were a step slow in the first half, even scoring [a goal]. In the second [half], we applied more pressure and started winning more 50-50 balls."
Arlington almost tied the game with 23 minutes left on a free kick and ratcheted up the intensity from there.
"We were in the same formation, we were just doing better with the opportunities," Wilkins said. "Chase [Hoyt] did a nice job in the middle, as did Matt Ritchie and that allowed us to move forward [more offensively]."
Brattleboro nearly clinched the game with a couple of on-target shots that Bialojan punched away to keep it a one-score game.
The German exchange student worked with coaches over the summer to get more comfortable in net.
"We didn't know what we were going to do, with Bailey [Cross] graduating," Wilkins said. "I think this is Coach [John Werner] smiling on us. He gave us a goaltender. We're blessed to have [Linus]. We're working through a few things, but he solidifies our team."
Arlington had two final chances in the last 90 seconds, including a Jack Lane shot from point-blank range that was blocked by a Brattleboro defender.
"That's the game of soccer, we have to regroup and come back on Saturday.
Arlington will face BBA in the consolation at 5 p.m., the Bulldogs fell 5-1 to Mount Anthony.
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