The Carlisle School boys soccer team remained undefeated against in-state opponents this season thanks in large part to a commitment to ball control on Tuesday.
The Chiefs dictated the flow of the game against Eastern Mennonite and emerged with a 3-1 victory at the Smith River Sports Complex.
“Every game, we want to control the ball, we want to be the team with the most possession at the end of the game,” Chiefs head coach Grant Boaz said.
With the win, Carlisle improved to 6-1-2 this year, its only loss coming in the season-opener against a North Carolina school. The win against the Flames (6-7-2) also gives the Chiefs another win in VISAA Division II this year.
“This was an important game for us to construct the identity of our team,” junior Mateus Pereira said. “It’s a big game that goes toward our goal of the state championship.”
Carlisle capitalized early with Pereira’s goal in the 18th minute from the left side. The Chiefs came close to doubling their lead in the 37th minute, but Vitor Otsuka’s shot clanked off of the right post.
Still, Pereira’s goal gave Carlisle a 1-0 lead at halftime.
“That (first goal) really helps to get more confidence during the first half,” Pereira said.
Carlisle’s Will Johnston added to the lead in the 61st minute after scoring on a rebound following a free kick from Otsuka. The initial attempt was blocked by Flames goalkeeper Jacob Yoder, but he could not corral it. Johnston took advantage for a 2-0 edge.
Eastern Mennonite’s Aaron Moyer finally got his team on the board in the 67th minute with a free kick goal following a Carlisle yellow card. Moyer rocketed the ball past Carlisle goalkeeper Gabriel Torres into the top right corner.
Two minutes later, Torres preserved that 2-1 cushion by saving another attempt on a free kick following a second yellow card.
Otsuka, who had been heavily shadowed by the Flames’ defense the entire evening, broke through for a goal with just over two minutes to play, accounting for the final margin.
“Having a player like Vitor is unbelievable—someone that anytime he’s on the ball, you know he can create an opportunity from nothing,” Boaz said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s 40 yards away from the goal or if he’s 10, you know something good is going to happen with the ball.”
Inside of two minutes to play, Carlisle was assessed a third yellow card, indicative of the emotions playing out on the field.
“Whenever there’s two good teams, the game gets pretty intense,” Pereira said.
Yellow cards aside, Boaz lauded his team’s resiliency in the second half.
“We kind of let them hang around,” he said. “They pulled one back late, but luckily we had enough resolve that we kept fighting and got one more just to make sure we closed the deal.”
Parker Cotton is a sports reporter at the Martinsville Bulletin and Danville Register & Bee. You can reach him at (276) 638-8801 ext. 215. Follow @ByParkerCotton.