Salem (MA) Witches Boys Soccer '07

Wed, Sep 12, 2007 04:00 PM @ Peabody
Team Final
Salem (MA) 0
Peabody 2
Salem's Mike Steeves, left, and Martin Amin, right, battle for the ball with Peabody's Ryan Pickard, center, during their game Wednesday, Sept. 12 at Peabody High School. The Tanners defeated the Witches 2-0. » Linsey Tait, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Defense paces Peabody boys past Salem

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Wednesday, September, 19 By Jean DePlacido

PEABODY | If you don't shoot the ball on net, you won't win. Throughout yesterday's game, Salem High boys soccer coach Mike D'Agostino repeatedly urged his Witches to shoot the ball on goal. But the stellar defense turned in by host Peabody High did not allow for many scoring chances. As a result, Salem suffered its first loss of the season, a 2-0 setback to the Tanners in their first matchup as Northeastern Conference rivals.

"We beat them to the ball all game, and in the second half shut them down," said Peabody head coach Stan McKeen. "I think we wore them down in the second half by using a lot of different kids. It's certainly a good start for us in the NEC."

Peabody (2-0) capitalized on a couple of mistakes to score late in the first half and again with 6:36 remaining in a game they dominated.

Captain Jared Rizzo, the Tanners' leading scorer last season, put his team on the board in the 32nd minute of play after Dominic Mondi's long kick was caught, then bobbled, by Salem netminder Mike Collins, who dropped the ball in front of his goal. Rizzo alertly pounced on it and tapped a low shot into the far corner.

The Tanners, who were very physical and quick to get to every loose ball, had plenty of chances to add to the lead, but Collins made some nice saves while other shots were too high. Peabody enjoyed a 17-4 shot advantage.

"We moved the ball very well, and had some good opportunities, but didn't finish," said McKeen. "Both our goals came off mistakes, but we have to work on finishing because we had that same problem against Beverly.

"Mike Dunleavy was on every ball to lead our defense, and Mondi also did a great job back there. (Captains) Josh Boyce and Carlos DeOliveira were strong in the middle, too."

Neither Peabody goalie, Brian Fleming (who played the 1st half) or Justin Famiglietti, was busy because their defense did such a good job turning the play back upfield before threats could materialize. Fleming was called upon to make a couple of tough saves in the early going, his best coming just after Peabody scored its first goal when he stopped a point-blank bid by Salem captain Mike Larsen off a corner kick.

"We made mistakes today | and they took advantage," said Salem's D'Agostino, whose team had beaten North Reading and Lynn English previously. "We didn't take enough shots, and every time we turned they were on our backs. Peabody pressured us very hard, and we were not ready for it. We didn't use our game plan."

The only player D'Agostino singled out was sweeper Ibrahim Oyewole, who was outstanding all game.

"That big sweeper was terrific," said McKeen. "He kept getting everything back there. I don't know how many times he saved them, and I thought their goalie made some nice saves in the second half."

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