In boys soccer: Falcons nip Vikings 2-1 in home opener

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by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle September 5, 2013

NC soccer jump
North Country’s Tyler Royer (center) takes to the air like his team’s namesake falcon during first-half action against the visiting Lyndon Institute Vikings on Wednesday, September 4. Attempting to stop him is Viking Travis Wilkinson (right). Royer would record North Country’s first goal by redirecting Travis Tetreault’s corner kick to open the scoring in the game. Photo by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT —  The North Country Falcons boys’ varsity squad started the season with a 2-1 victory over the visiting Lyndon Institute Vikings on Wednesday afternoon.  Credit for the win could be attributed to strong team chemistry and a balanced mix of upper and lower classmen.

“We got some great minutes from the young guys,” North Country Head Coach James McKenny said after the game.  “This freshman class brings a lot of talent out there.  They’re so coachable and just a great group of people.”

The Falcons got on the board first as Tyler Royer buried a long corner kick from teammate Travis Tetreault 17:17 into the first half.  Throughout the first half North Country applied tremendous pressure on the Vikings.  That limited, but could not entirely prevent, opportunities for the LI squad.  With just under nine minutes remaining in the half Octavio “Tavi” Vasquez-Tellez threaded through the Falcon defense and slid the ball past North Country Keeper Ryan Paul to tie-up the game at 1-1.

Paul did not fault his defenders for the goal.  His defenders did what they needed to do and kept the Vikings at bay through most of the contest, he said.

“We had a lot of big dogs out back working it,” Paul said after the game.  “Communication is key and when we talk, we work well as a unit.”

On a team where half of the players are freshmen or sophomores finding that balance of experience and energy can be difficult.  Not so for this year’s team, Coach McKenny said.

NC soccer chip
North Country Falcon Connor St. Onge (center) chips his way out of a jam during Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the visiting Lyndon Institute Vikings. Vikings Logan Larose (left) and Nicholas Stillson flank St. Onge as fellow Falcon Travers Parsons-Grayson (center right) sweeps around from behind. Photo by Richard Creaser

“They’re all out here for the same reason — they love soccer,” the coach said.  “They are true students of the game.  We’ve been working hard on having them study the game while in it.  It’s not an easy thing to do but they are doing it.”

Situational awareness is key on a team that needs to ensure that it can capitalize on the opportunities it is given.  Effective screening and a little luck enabled the Falcons to score the go-ahead goal on Nate Marsh’s kick with 33:38 remaining on the clock in the second half.  The ball dropped and wobbled just enough to throw off LI keeper Bijian Soleymani.  Soleymani could do little but cup his hands over his face as the ball careened into the corner of his net.

NC soccer save
Lyndon Institute’s Bijian Stoleymani makes a leaping deflection to keep the visiting Vikings in the game during Wednesday’s contest against the home team North Country Falcons. Moving in on the play are Viking Bayley Palzer (left), Falcon Jeremy Cotnoir (center) and Viking Davin Hagman. Photo by Richard Creaser

The Vikings found themselves down a goal but did not let that deter them from playing on.  The second half was a more balanced affair as both North Country and Lyndon vied for control of the field.  Paul would see his skills tested more often in the second half including a potentially game changing diving stop with 3:20 remaining in the game.

“I think we put forward a pretty balanced effort,” Paul said noting that the defense and offense worked in tandem.  “We may not be the most skilled team but we’ll out-work you every time.  We don’t give up.”

While the attitude and the focus are present, there are still some aspects of the Falcons’ game that could be improved, Coach McKenny said.  Establishing control of the ball is a weak spot, but it’s something that can and will be worked on as the season progresses, he said.

“It’s our first touch that needs to be addressed and remedied,” Coach McKenny said.  “Establishing that control and then playing to place.”

nc soccer duel
North Country freshman defender Henok Palin (right) challenges LI forward Octavio “Tavi” Vasquez-Tellez during Wednesday’s season opening varsity soccer contest at North Country Union High. Falcons Coach James McKenny praised Palin’s strong defensive play as the home Falcons edged the Vikings 2-1. Photo by Richard Creaser

A smarter brand of soccer will be instrumental for the Falcons to contend this season.  The need to bring intensity, not rage, will determine if this squad soars or falls flat.  Coach McKenny is confident that his team has the right mentality for success.

“They keep pretty calm and don’t panic,” Coach McKenny said.  “They’re pretty dialed in.  It comes back to that old saying about working smarter, not harder.”

The boys travel to take on BFA St. Albans on Saturday with a 10 a.m. start.

contact Richard Creaser at [email protected]

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