Before Andover’s boys soccer team faced Salina Central on Tuesday, one thing was weighing on the Trojans — Salina Central’s success this season.
The Mustangs defeated Hutchinson 8-2, while Andover only won 1-0; Salina Central beat Andover Central 6-2, while the Trojans won 2-1 in overtime.
That intimidation got the best of Andover in a 4-1 loss.
“I think going into the game they were a little bit nervous of the quality, seeing some of the scores when they played against teams that we played against,” Andover coach Chris Lemons said. “Of course your mind plays tricks on you a little bit.”
Salina Central used the wind to its advantage, and took control of the game in the first half. With 16:12 remaining in the period, Tanner Montoy struck the ball in front of the goal, and Damion Cooper scored off of a header.
Andover held Salina Central scoreless for the rest of the first half, until, with 49 seconds left, Montoy slotted the ball to Cooper for another goal.
“I preach to my guys that the first five minutes and the last five minutes of each half are vital. You can’t give up opportunities because that’s when most of the goals are scored, but unfortunately we did,” Lemons said. “That put us in a little hole going into the second half.”
Andover changed its formation in the second half in order to create opportunities on offense.
But about halfway through the period, with 19:42 remaining, Cooper slotted the ball to Erik Arias for another Salina Central goal.
“We thought we could still get back into it, we have been playing better in the second half,” Andover’s Alec Linot said. “We held them pretty well, we just had a couple lapses on defense.”
Then Andover’s Alex Durano took the ball into Salina Central’s penalty area and he was fouled, allowing Jacob Loflin to score from a penalty kick with 12:47 to play. But Salina Central sealed its win with the combination of Montoy and Arias for a final goal with 3:14 remaining.
“We always want to look for those slot balls if they’re there,” Cooper said. “A lot of teams want to do that but with the team chemistry we have, we look for the slots and they’re on every time.”
Andover had won six of its last nine games, and tied two of them. With only three regular-season games remaining, Lemons used Tuesday to evaluate the team before the postseason.
“This was a good test for us, because now we see a couple of holes we need to fix, we see a couple of things we need to be better at, and I saw some players step up tonight that I felt have been lacking the last couple of games,” Lemons said.
First half—Salina Central, Cooper (Montoy), Cooper (Montoy). Second half—Salina Central, Arias (Cooper). Andover, Loflin (penalty kick). Salina Central, Arias (Montoy).
Shots—Salina Central, 5-3—8; Andover, 0-3—3. Saves—Salina Central, Emme 0-1—1; Andover, Brimager 2-1—3.