SALEM — Three weeks ago, the Peabody High boys soccer team took to the pitch for the first time at tryouts.
On Tuesday evening under the lights at Salem’s Bertram Field, the Tanners finally got a crack at some meaningful game action.
Taking on an rejuvenated Salem High squad that’s looking to turn some tides this fall, Peabody got going early and often. They scored six unanswered goals in the first half en route to an 8-2 win, displaying some masterful footwork and crisp ball movement throughout.
“I was very pleased,” said longtime Peabody head coach Stan McKeen. “We moved the ball well, played good defense ... it was a good opening game for us as far as I’m concerned.”
The visitors first goal came about two minutes in as junior Nathan Braz found the back of the net. Less than 10 minutes later, Braz was at it again with an impressive series of individual moves in front before firing a low shot home.
Salem nearly cut the deficit in half moments later when Roy Amin tried his hands at a chip shot in close, but it sailed just high over the cross bar. The Tanners then scored four more times before halftime, virtually putting the game out of reach heading into the final 40 minutes.
Those goals came from Frayluis Almonte (on a beautiful cross from Mahmoud Mishal), Hugo Coutinho (on a penalty kick), Marc Ortiz and Braz (his third and final of the game, this one coming off a textbook, low cross from Kyle Lobao.
“Peabody is a very fast team, a very smart team and technically speaking they know where to go and they’re communicating a lot,” said Salem first-year head coach Padraic Slattery. “I think that’s something we’re trying to emulate a lot and we can kind of learn from what they did. Their midfield was extremely fast and they exploited us at times there, and their counter attack was very strong.”
Despite the loss, it wasn’t all bad for the Witches.
Junior Michael Rosa sent in a pair of picture perfect corner kicks from the left side that were both nearly goals, and the aforementioned Amin was able to finish both of the kicks off strong. The first of those two Salem goals came early on in the second half, while the second came just minutes later on an almost identical play from Rosa and Amin.
“I think the guys worked hard and I appreciate them not giving up,” added Slattery. “Being down 6-nil guys could’ve definitely given up but they had heart and Roy was in the right place at the right time, back post for two goals.”
Slattery also shouted out his defense, and rightfully so after all the shots and attacking possessions they faced from Peabody. Eddie Rawley played the entire game in the back, Eli Ferreira did a great job alongside him, and keeper Jake Fritz (a junior captain) more than held his own between the pipes considering the amount of shots he faced.
Peabody scored twice more before the final horn sounded, including an excellent top-shelf boot from Ryan Alves midway through the second half. It was an encouraging start for a team that graduated 13 seniors and lost their top player from a year ago, Kyle Joyce, to private school. The Tanners will face Masconomet on Friday in what should be an exciting Northeastern Conference powerhouse clash.