REDDING—In his 18 years of at the helm, Pomperaug boys soccer coach Joseph Mancini can count on one hand the times his team has come to Barlow and walked away winners.
Mancini and Pomperaug can add one more to the list as the Panthers came into Barlow, controlling play in the midfield, winning the majority of 50/50 balls and beating the hosts 2-0 Tuesday afternoon.
The defense for Pomperaug was stout led by the midfielders who did a solid job keeping the Barlow attack under wraps.
“In 18 years, I think, I only won three games here. It’s so hard to win here, so, this is a big win for us,” Mancini said. “We were able to stay compact. We know they move the ball really well, so we stressed staying compact and not letting them play balls through. The midfielders really had to tuck in and thy did that really well today.”
The win moves Pomperaug to 9-2-0 as it fights for a top four seed in the SWC tournament which begins in a few weeks.
Pomperaug wasted no time, scoring less than a1:30 into the game when Zack Hoedl sent a ball in from the end line which the Barlow keeper bobbled and dropped into the goal.
The Panthers would add another goal late, again on a miscue by the Barlow keeper.
With 3:45 left to play in the game, Harrison McQuillan played in a free kick from 45 yards out which the Barlow keeper dropped.
Waiting in the right spot, Jack O’Brien cleaned up the dropped ball, placing it in the back of the net.
Barlow coach Paul Winstanley said he is at a loss as to why his team is not performing up to expectations.
“We are just not playing well. We get out-worked and the quality is not there anymore,” Winstanley said. “Our system is predicated on our guys believing they can pass and move off the ball and defend in numbers and it’s just not happening, right now. I am probably more disappointed this year than I have been in, probably forever. This team shouldn’t be having these issues. There is really no excuse. We shouldn’t have any losses but we are sitting her at 6-3-1. 10 games in and three losses, who would have thought?”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Cole Phaneuf, Pomperaug. The entire midfield could probably be called out for their play but Phaneuf spent the most time marking Barlow’s all-state midfielder Jack Warren and keeping him under wraps.
“Jack Warren is a really good player and we pushed up on him every time he got the ball. A lot of their attack goes through him, so, we marked him up and nothing happened from their offense,” Phaneuf said. “This is huge for us to come here and get a win. They were supposed to be the one of the best teams in the SWC but they are dropping and we are moving up. We are staying in second place and we are looking good for a home game and a top four seed.”
POMPERAUG 2, BARLOW 0
POMPERAUG 1 1—2
BARLOW 0 0—0
Records: P—9-2-0; B—6-3-1
Goals: P-- Zack Hoedl, Jack O’Brien. Assists: P-- Harrison McQuillan. Goalies: P—Nathan Barstrom 7 saves; B—John Hoeing 5 saves; Robert Syku 4 saves