NEWBURYPORT — Question: What happens when you have the best scorer in the league and he goes down in the middle of the game?
Answer: You lose.
That’s what happened to the Newburyport boys soccer team (6-4-1) at home yesterday when forward Adam Traxler went down with an ankle sprain. Georgetown (4-4-3) took the collars off the three players normally covering the junior, and took advantage of the Clippers’ confusion to take the game on a free kick and climb to a .500 record, 1-0.
“It was a true team effort, and that’s what we need to win,” said Georgetown coach Matt Laut. “We’ve definitely picked up the pace in the last few games. We’ve caught a couple of losses, but (the players have) stayed positive and pushed through. We had our opportunities and the goals are going to come, and that’s what we did. We kept pushing, and we never gave up, and it’s a great game by everyone.”
The Royals started the game off hot, taking it to the Clipper defense. Georgetown got a shot off on Clipper goalkeeper Matt Canning in the first two minutes. But the defense didn’t break for Port, and the ball would soon find itself in the Georgetown zone more and more with Traxler trying to slip his triple coverage along the way. The Royals held strong enough behind goalkeeper Gus Savage to make it to the half with a 0-0- tie.
Georgetown caught its big break five minutes into the second half when Traxler took a boot to the foot, rolling it along the way, and letting out a cry of pain on his way down. After a few minutes the co-captain and league-leader in points with 15 limped off the field with assistance and never returned, allowing the Royals to free up a trio of players.
“They’ve got to watch out for him,” Clippers coach Shawn Bleau said of Traxler, who is now day-to-day. “Then all of a sudden, they didn’t. They got to push forward a little more, and that threw off our whole sub rotation because we’re used to having him in there the majority of the time.”
What could have been a great opportunity for the Clippers to find a hero without Traxler with midfielders Jordy Steelman and Allan Eagan and forwards Tom Graham and King Shema attempting to step it up on the wet grass was stifled when Royals’ midfielder Andrew Nowak drew a free kick about halfway into the second half.
Nowak shot high, the ball sailed over Canning, and curled down the net to give the Royals the momentum for the rest of the afternoon.
“I’ve had a lot like that, and I’ve missed most of them,” Nowak said of his free kick, admitting that this was his first success in that situation since U10 ball. “I was just hoping that this was the time, and it worked out nicely.”
Bleau praised his defense including senior co-captain Alex Salah for working hard under pressure as Canning stopped 13 shots on net including a penalty kick from Jared Warren with a minute left.
“He did a great job on the PK,” Bleau said of Canning. “We had scouted that, so we knew which way it was going to go. And Matt did a good job saving that.”
Laut is starting to feel good about his team’s chances down the stretch.
“There’s no team that we haven’t played yet that we can’t compete with,” said Laut. “And going forward, we just have to put in the effort like this. If we put in an effort like this every game, we’re going to win a majority of our games. We just need to keep pushing it.”
Nowak agrees that Georgetown could be a dangerous team down the stretch.
“I’m really happy,” Nowak said of his team’s victory. “We’ve had a rocky couple of weeks. But I feel like we can start a win streak and we can make a deep run again.”