By Nick Curcuru
---- — MANCHESTER — Both the Manchester Essex and Ipswich boys soccer teams were looking for a signature win over an elite Cape Ann League foe yesterday afternoon.
In the end, the Hornets separated themselves from the pack in a crowded CAL Small race by topping the talented Tigers, 3-1 at Hyland Field.
The win moves Manchester Essex to 2-1-1 on the year, just a point behind first place Rockport and Georgetown in the CAL Small standings. Ipswich, which was tied for the league lead entering Tuesday’s game, falls back to fourth at 2-2.
“It was a great performance from top to bottom,” Hornets head coach Rob Bilsbury said. “We have huge respect for Ipswich, they’re a dangerous team. I wouldn’t say that we made a statement where one team is better than the other but we went out there and played hard from start to finish, executed our game plan and had a great game. It was a total team effort out there, really nice soccer.”
It all starts with the keeper and Alex Taliaferro was lights out, making several big stops in both halves against a talented and explosive Tigers offense.
The Manchester Essex defense was also equally up to the task, combating Ipswich’s speed with superior position.
The Hornet forwards, led by George Lantz and Lucas Firme, combined to score all three of the of the Hornets’ goals, showed great chemistry and a nose for the goal in Tuesday’s win.
“George and Lucas showed beautiful chemistry and creativity tonight,” Bilsbury said. “(Ipswich) is a prolific offensive team and on defense we knew that if we didn’t reach in and try to take the ball and instead defended with shape and our system we could handle their speed. The midfielders sustained some good possession and got the ball to our forwards and Alex came up huge in goal with some tough saves. If Ipswich scores on those opportunities it could have been a completely different game.”
Lantz got the Hornets started in the 17th minute when he and Firme worked some great give and go passing through the midfield culminating with Firme setting up Lantz in a great spot to find the back of the net and putting the Hornets up 1-0.
That lead, however, would not last long as Ipswich immediately hit on a long ball to Jaeger, who finished the job just 10 seconds after Lantz scored to tie the game at 1-1.
Ipswich continued to bring quality pressure over the final 20 minutes of the half but Taliaferro was up to the task making a pair of diving stops on Jaeger to keep it a 1-1 tie at the break.
In the second half it was Manchester Essex that found its groove, slowing down Ipswich’s end to end speed game with a slower paced but effective possession game.
Just one minute into the second half Parker Edington hit Firme with a long ball, the Hornets striker then beat a defender and broke in all alone on the Tigers goalie to score what turned out to be the game winning goal.
Lantz put the game away 26 minutes later in the 67th minute with strong position in the box gathering a Jack Freed cross and scoring his second goal of the game to make it 3-1.
The Tigers got more aggressive as time dwindled, but the Hornets stayed composed and held on for the win.