AMESBURY — Jacob Malburg saw the perfect through-ball come his way, and he knew he had to do something with it.
Luckily for the Amesbury senior, his goal-scoring instincts kicked in.
“I got a great ball from Jake (Hallinan) and knew I had something,” said Malburg. “I cut in, went around the defender and just slammed it bottom left.”
Malburg’s nifty strike came midway through the second half, and put Amesbury up 1-0 in their season-opener against Georgetown. And that proved to be all the Indians would need, as the senior Hallinan led a strong defensive effort and stalwart goalie Charlie Mackie turned away every shot he faced to preserve the shutout.
After finding the back of the net seven times in just 10 games last fall, Malburg wasted no time getting back to doing what he does best.
“He’s a goal-scorer,” smiled Hallinan after the game.
But while the lone goal was a beautiful one, Malburg, Hallinan and the rest of the Amesbury roster were simply happy to come out with a victory.
It was the Indians’ first season-opening win since at least the 2016 season, and was a nice continuation from last fall’s pandemic-shortened schedule that saw the program win its final two games after a rough start.
“We had a plan in mind and I think we executed it,” said Amesbury coach Maddie MacLean. “Now our next step is to put a few more in the back of the net. We’re still getting used to it, but it definitely feels like we’re getting back to the normal game of soccer after last year. Even just the pace of the game was different.
“It feels great. The boys worked hard in the spring and over the summer, and they were taking how we ended the season last year and carrying off of that.”
If Wednesday was any indication of what’s to come, then it could be a pretty successful fall for Amesbury.
Malburg and fellow senior Drew Davis give the Indians a pair of experienced strikers, but — following off of yesterday’s script — it looks like the defense will be a strength of the program this fall.
“Yeah I mean up the middle we’re all strong,” said Hallinan. “We’ve just been together all offseason just working out and getting better, and now we just know what to do and are doing it.”
Both teams had chances in the first half, but neither were able to find the back of the net until Malburg’s goal.
Georgetown threatened to equalize multiple times with senior striker Graham Billington leading the charge, but each time Amesbury was there to turn it away. On one occasion midway through the second half, Mackie came flying out of his net to make a leaping grab on a dangerous cross before rifling a pass downfield that led to an offensive chance for his team.
The Royals, who got four strong saves from goalie Kyle Davies to keep it a one-goal game, earned a pair of corners in the game’s closing minutes, but couldn’t get one past the Amesbury back line.
“A home-opener and a dub (win),” said Malburg. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Amesbury 1, Georgetown 0
Goals: Jacob Malbery
Assists: Jake Hallinan
Saves: A — Charlie Mackie 5; G — Kyle Davies 4
Georgetown (0-1): 0 0 — 0
Amesbury (1-0): 0 1 — 1