EASTON — John Pritchett admitted he had a lot on his mind Monday.
The worry that carried the most weight with Easton High’s boys’ head soccer coach was hoping his three seniors — Alex Velasquez, Briedi Morales-Perez and Jefrey Bernardo — played well on senior night.
After 80 minutes of play, Pritchett admitted he couldn’t have designed it any better.
Velasquez scored on a penalty kick early in the second half, and Morales-Perez and Bernardo each scored in the final 4 minutes as the Warriors earned an 8-4 victory over Cambridge-South Dorchester for their third win in four games.
“I was thinking how we would play this match, and how I would rotate players in, and how I would get everyone minutes and allow those guys some joy,” Pritchett said of his three seniors. “I just really wanted to see those guys go out and play in front of their family and friends for the last time here at home in the regular season. I couldn’t have written a better script. Jefrey scoring there in the final minutes of the match just put icing on the cake for us. It was an amazing senior night for these boys.”
Easton (4-4-1 overall, 3-2-1 North Bayside) never trailed, as Kevin Mejia picked his way through the defense before parking a shot in the lower right corner in the eighth minute for a 1-0 lead. Less than 5 minutes later, an unmarked Jimmy Monroy got the ball directly in front of the goal and drilled shot in from 15 yards out for a 2-0 lead.
But Cambridge-SD (6-4, 3-4), which hadn’t scored a goal against a Class 2A opponent in three games this season, wouldn’t go away.
With 13 minutes remaining in the first half, Eric Estrilla veered in from left wing and unloaded a shot that went over the outstretched arms of Easton keeper Jake Hershey, cutting the Vikings’ deficit to 2-1.
The Warriors answered each one of Cambridge-SD’s goals though, starting with 9:30 left in the first half, when Santiago Fresco neatly floated a direct kick from 25 yards out over Vikings keeper Colin Webster into the left corner for a 3-1 lead that stood at halftime.
Easton extended its lead to 4-1 in the third minute of the second half, when Velasquez took a penalty kick, blasted a shot into the right side of the net, then ran toward the bleachers to flex his biceps.
The Warriors continued pressuring the Vikings net. Morales-Perez just missed bending a shot inside the left post less than 2 minutes later. Mejia sent a drive wide right 2 minutes after that.
“We talked at halftime that there was no way we’d be settling for what we had, and we wanted to keep going for more,” Pritchett said. “We’re a team that likes to attack.”
Cambridge-SD again cut its deficit in half 11 minutes into the second half, when James Frazier struck a shot that spun off Hershey’s hands just over the goal line.
A little over 3 minutes later, Mejia booted a direct kick that two Warrior teammates missed getting a foot on, but still bounded into the net for a 5-2 lead.
The back and forth continued.
Jahkai Hall’s header brought Cambridge-SD within 5-3. Banks almost made it a one-goal deficit moments later, when he drove a shot that banged off the corner of the goal-frame. But Easton regained its three-goal cushion with 8:52 left, when Drew Schmidt’s popped a header over a defender and Webster.
Sam Banks’ header off Estrilla’s corner kick with 7:26 left again pulled the Vikings within two at 6-4.
But Easton’s two other seniors padded its lead down the stretch. Morales-Perez headed a goal in off Jed Smith’s corner kick with 3:33 remaining. Bernardo that drew a rousing cheer when he scored from left wing with under 2 minutes left, giving each senior a goal.
“We’re an offensive-minded team, but we’ve got to make sure we’re a little bit more disciplined in the back,” Pritchett said. “We gave up some really, really easy opportunities. Hats off to Cambridge’s strikers for finishing those off. But we shouldn’t have allowed them that opportunity.”
Cambridge-SD head coach Jerrad Thomas had similar feelings as far as his defense.
“I don’t know what was up with our defense today. I guess it was the break,” said Thomas, whose team had not played since last Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over Washington. “We just lacked awareness. But we live and we learn.”
Cambridge-SD is 6-0 against 1A competition this season, but Thomas emphasized a need for his defense to get better.
“We’ve got to get it together if we plan on making any type of playoff push,” Thomas said. “It’s always nice to try and steal one from the bigger schools. As long as we stay undefeated we have two 1As left, Pocomoke and (North Dorchester), and we’ll see how those two go. But we’re looking really solid for this number one seed for playoffs. So we’re going to take and try to run with it.”
N. Caroline 1, St. Michaels 0
ST. MICHAELS — Anthony Blottenberger scored the game’s lone goal as the Bulldogs improved to 5-4, 5-1 heading into Wednesday’s showdown with Kent Island (6-1-1, 5-0).
Easton 1, Queen Anne’s 0
CENTREVILLE — Kat Knox set up Ella Chandler’s goal, and Aubrey Lavezzo made seven saves as the Warriors extended their winning streak to four.