MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Blue Knights of Manchester West began their 2019 boys’ soccer season on a high note, earning a 3-1 home win against Kearsarge.
Although West held the contest’s momentum during the opening minutes, the majority of opportunities went to the Cougars in the first half.
Kearsarge striker Toby McLeod struck first at the 14’ mark, capitalizing on a rebound bouncing off the hands of West goalkeeper Adam Podsadowski that bounced toward the center of the penalty area.
West’s John Amosi equalized just two minutes later on a set piece as he managed to escape the visitors’ marking and find the ball feet away from the goal.
Amosi’s score perhaps came as a result of his wide range during the first half, as he fluctuated between a false nine and a more traditional midfield role, often helping out on defense.
In the second half, he limited his roaming and West’s back line followed suit, reducing the higher line that gave Kearsarge so many more chances in the first half.
Prior to the mid-time whistle, the Cougars were caught offside four times and nearly jumped several more times as their aggressive approach brought chances that just couldn’t be transformed into goals.
In the second half, West’s switch to a more counterattacking style helped bridge the disparity in possession, with West head coach Dan Filardo stressing patience to his boys in the locker room.
“I told them to just keep their composure, let’s keep it simple, simplify our passing and control it more from the back and that’s what we did,” said Filardo.
The Blue Knights took the lead at the 47’ mark as Prajwhal Ghalley connected with Christian Abuda on a beautiful 30-yard cross from the right touch line to a waiting Abuda just a few feet away from the left post.
As the back-and-forth began to build, West’s Abdullah Ali picked up a yellow card for a vicious sliding tackle that caught Sean Tobin’s shin near midfield, but the Cougars weren’t able to capitalize.
Instead, West took advantage as Kearsarge moved to a three-man backline, letting Abuda get a second goal off a Ghalley cross in the 75th minute.
A case could be made that the goal-line clearance from Lee Bruce midway through the second half was the biggest moment of the contest, denying Kearsarge an opportunity move momentum back in their favor.
However, a clear change followed West’s third goal, as the Blue Knights withdrew even further, soaking up the Kearsarge pressure and letting Podsadowski handle any shots that found their way past the West defense.
West (1-0) next hosts Milford on Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 4 p.m. Kearsarge (0-1) also plays on Tuesday, with a 5 p.m. home contest against Pelham.
Meanwhile, West started its girls’ soccer season with a 7-0 road defeat to Bow.
Trinity also began their soccer season on Friday, with the boys defeating St. Thomas Aquinas 2-1 across town and the girls defeating Somersworth 1-0 on the road.