Archrivals MV United and Dartmouth met on the pitch Sunday at Veterans Park in Vineyard Haven with first place at stake in a boys Under-18 South Coast Soccer League travel soccer clash.
Though the contest did not always resemble the beautiful game, the match crackled with intensity from start to finish, with the teams playing to a 1-1 draw.
With the result, the Vineyard remained at the top of the table, unbeaten with four wins and a draw. Dartmouth fell to fourth place at 3-1-1.
MV United came into the match with 25 goals scored and just one conceded after a string of lopsided victories over lesser opponents, but Dartmouth provided a rude awakening for coach Esteban Aranzabe’s side.
The visitors struck early, ten minutes into the match, scoring on a rebound into the bottom left corner, putting United in the unfamiliar position of playing from behind. The Vineyard dominated possession for the remainder of the first half but failed to equalize. The favored form of attack in the first half was the long ball sent down the right flank.
MVU had three good chances, two coming from Jason Lages crosses into the box and another following Alex GordonBeck’s pitch-length run. Dartmouth threatened twice more on set pieces but Vineyard keeper Matt Stone was up to the task.
Dartmouth carried a 1-0 lead to the halftime break.
With a strong wind at their backs to start the second half, the Purple and Black stormed out of the gate, putting four shots on target in the opening 15 minutes. The long passes of the first half were limited in favor of more effective short passes. Kane Araujo and Lee Faraca created the first attempt but the Dartmouth keeper tipped the ball over the crossbar. Ten minutes in, the Vineyard drew level. Jason Lages ran down the left flank, put on a burst of speed through two defenders and slid the ball to Yannick Gonsalves, who split two more defenders and slotted the ball through the goalie’s legs from the penalty spot. Minutes later, Gonsalves nearly put United in front with a deft chip shot that looped over the goal.
Dartmouth weathered the storm and stiffened their defense for the remainder of the match. Each side had their share of set pieces down the stretch, but the points would be shared on the day.
“This is the kind of game that we were looking for all season,” Coach Aranzabe said after the match. “We were looking forward to this game. The goalies work hard, the coaches work hard, and the wind was so strong. [In the first half] We brought our play to their play, which was kick and run. The pressure was a lot, but that happens when you play weaker teams and then you play a good team.”
Around the SCSL
The big Under-18 match headlined a busy weekend in SCSL play. The boys U-12B Hammers traveled to play Swansea Somerset on a hot and muggy Saturday afternoon. The Hammers were slow to start but benefited from an own goal in the 17th minute. Josh Dix doubled the Vineyard lead six minutes from halftime with a well-struck shot from outside the box.
The hosts pulled one back in the second half but Hammers keeper Adam Knight made several outstanding saves to preserve the win.
The U-14 girls rebounded from their only defeat this season May 3 at Oceana with a 4-1 win Saturday at Norton. Evelyn Medeiros started the scoring and finished the match with two goals. Olivia Pouliot scored the second goal and dished out two assists. Sasha Lakis chalked up a goal and an assist.
The MV United U-14 boys improved to 5-1 on Saturday by blanking Freetown-Lakeville, 6-0. Lukah Vieira scored the hat trick and Nahuel Aranzabe earned the shutout.
The U-16 girls dominated Dartmouth, 4-0. The teams were deadlocked 0-0 at halftime but M.V. dominated the second half. Natalija Lakis notched a hat trick and Madison McBride scored the other Vineyard goal from a stellar Lakis cross. Cana Courtney earned the clean sheet in net.
In other action, the U-15 boys traveled to Norton and won, 4-2; the U-12 MV United Blues lost to visiting Dighton-Rehoboth, 4-0; and the U-11 girls lost to Norton, 4-2, at Veterans Park.