DANVERS — The St. John’s Prep soccer team can attack from the forward position or from the midfield, and they’re a threat to score from straight ahead or from the wings.
Visiting Andover took away a few of the Eagles’ weapons in a Division 1 North first round game in Danvers yesterday afternoon, but the Golden Warriors learned it’s nearly impossible to mark them all.
Four different players factored in the scoring as the No. 3 seed Prep earned a 2-0 win. St. John’s (14-2-3) advances to host Lexington (10-3-6 after a 5-0 winner over Revere) in the quarterfinals tomorrow at 2 p.m.
“The first tournament game is always the most nerve wracking,” said Eagles head coach Dave Crowell. “This will serve us well moving forward, but we’re going to have to play better.”
Andover, a No. 10 seed that finished the year 8-7-4, played tight defense against St. John’s. The Eagles didn’t have room to make creative passes and were forced into a bit of a kick-and-run game.
“We did not have the possession I’d like us to. We’re a possession-oriented team and didn’t have it — and part of that is a credit to Andover,” said Crowell. “They played hard right to the end.”
Junior Paul Magazzu finished a sharp cross by senior Michael Lanza in the 16th minute of play to put the Eagles on top, 1-0. The hosts had a few chances to go ahead early, including a header by Harry Cusask that sailed over the cage.
Magazzu cashing in gave St. John’s some much needed breathing room.
“It felt like we could’ve had three in the first 10 minutes; fortunately not putting those chances away early didn’t haunt us,” said Crowell.
Andover struggled to attack, putting just one shot on goal in the first half. The Golden Warriors had four in the second half, though, with three of them coming in the last 10 minutes. Their best scoring bid was a direct kick that Ryan Trisman blasted into keeper Zach Rowell’s hands.
It was the best save of the afternoon for Rowell, who made five spots to earn the playoff clean sheet.
“They never really tested us,” said Crowell, noting the importance of his team experiencing an opponent pressing down by a single goal late in a state tournament atmosphere.
“We worked on that in practice yesterday. We have to be ready for all scenarios.”
With 3:53 to play, junior Patrick Foley tapped in an excellent feed from senior mid Greg French to give the Prep a comfortable 2-0 edge. The goal came minutes after Lanza hit the post, and allowed the Eagles to take advantage of a few long counter-runs that to that point hadn’t resulted in goals.
“We weren’t playing smart. We played their game, which is more of a helter-skelter style,” said Crowell. “We kept it together enough to get that second one and put it away, but we have to play smarter if we’re going to make a (long tournament) run.”