Boy's Soccer vs. Millbrook

May 9, 2012
By ROBERT NIEDZWIECKI

WINCHESTER — Though Millbrook senior forward Cesar Salamanca was at a loss as to what to say about his no-look goal, Pioneers boys’ soccer coach Keith Kilmer helpfully interjected that Salamanca does things like that “all the time in practice.”

In unpredictable situations like Tuesday, it definitely helps to have someone who is spectacularly predictable.

Salamanca had an impressive assist before scoring the goal that proved to be the game-winner in Millbrook’s 3-1 Northwestern District victory over James Wood at Millbrook.

The game was played under a massive downpour until there were three minutes left in the first half, leaving the field wet and slick for the rest of the night.

The game was evenly played and each team had numerous opportunities, with Millbrook holding an 18-15 advantage in shots. But lately, the Pioneers (8-7, 3-4 Northwestern District), winners of four of their last five games, are converting them, and the Colonels (6-8, 3-3), losers of six straight, are not.

Not surprisingly, Salamanca — who leads the Pioneers with eight assists and ranks second on the team in combined goals and assists with 17 — played a big role in keeping the Pioneers on top for much of the night.

After assisting Arsene Cyubahiro’s goal 13 minutes into the first half, he put Millbrook up 2-0 after flicking a ball out of the air past James Wood goalkeeper Joe Kysela in the 56th minute.

What made the goal truly impressive was that Salamanca was able to flick his leg out behind him and score even though he was 10 yards away from the net, his back was to the goal and turned at a 45-degree angle, and Kysela was practically on top of him after the ball arrived from Millbrook midfielder Esteban Melivilu out of the right corner.

Millbrook senior goalkeeper Caleb Schneider made nine big saves in goal, but he’s not sure what he would have done in that situation.

“He’s a trickster,” Schneider said. “I probably wouldn’t have saved that. It’s tricky what he does with his feet. I can’t defend him or anything in practice. It’s nice when I don’t have to deal with him.”

James Wood would close within a goal on a Garrett Hodgson score in the 68th minute, but ultimately the two-goal deficit proved to be too much to overcome.

Salamanca got the Pioneers started with a play that was plenty spectacular in its own right. He took a long ball from the back, drove hard down the left sideline, then flicked a ball toward the top of the penalty box that was just far enough away from Kysela that he couldn’t charge out on it, and just far enough ahead of fellow senior forward Cyubahiro that he could run onto it and drive it in from the just inside the box.

“That’s what he does,” Kilmer said. “The good strikers just sort of disappear from the game. They just sort of blend in. You don’t really realize they’re doing much, and all of a sudden they’re just explosive. That’s what makes them so dangerous, and he exploded up that sideline and just played that perfect ball for Arsene.”

For Salamanca, in his first year playing for Millbrook after transferring from Handley, games like Tuesday’s couldn’t mean more.

“I feel complete,” he said. “I’ve been working hard for this.”

Kysela made seven saves for the Colonels, but Schneider had to handle a few more blasts Tuesday. He didn’t have too move much for them, but for the most part, he did well to swallow up the rebounds or punch them out so they went far out of harm’s way.

Schneider’s effort was one of many that Kilmer was pleased with on a night where it was hard to get into a flow. After giving up two goals on throw-ins and one on a corner kick a week ago in a loss to Sherando, the Pioneers did well in the air to keep James Wood’s long-throwing Mel Savarese from causing harm, and Millbrook matched up well against a team that was fighting hard for a win.

“The weather conditions didn’t let us play the way we like to play, so we adapted to it, and we talked about that before the game,” Kilmer said. “One thing we’re doing right now is adapting to the teams we’re playing. You get a team as hard-nosed as James Wood with the talent they have, and they’re still going for first place, and we came out and fought as hard or harder. We’re rising to the occasion.”

For James Wood, which has only beaten Skyline since beating Millbrook 1-0 on April 17, Tuesday’s was a tough defeat to take given its effort.

“In the beginning of the season, Millbrook was talking about just not being able to put the ball in the back of the net, and I think that’s what it came down to for us tonight,” James Wood coach Chris Hild said. “I felt like we had some close opportunities, but the ball just didn’t bounce our way. I definitely felt like we challenged [Schneider].”

James Wood nearly tied the game when Spencer Marfing sent a ball toward goal that Schneider had to reach back for, but that led to a counterattack in which Shane Moyer fed Carlos Sosa for a goal in the 75th minute.

The Colonels, who also got an assist from Logan Yost, just hope they can turn things around soon.

“I think we’ve gone into a pretty deep hole, and we need to figure it out, because the district tournament is coming up,” Hild said. “We’re getting better, but our guys are aggravated because we know we’re a better team [than what our record shows].”

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