The Oyster River High School (10-2) boys varsity soccer team defeated rival Coe Brown Northwood Academy (6-3-1), 3-0 on Wednesday night at ORHS. Led by two goals from sophomore Caden Leader (‘21), the Bobcats were able to fend off a tough Bears team who previously shut the Bobcats out in their season opener in late August.
Fans of both schools filled student sections and lined the fence as the rematch unfolded.
ORHS Superfan Wyatt Carlson (‘19) was in the front row. “It was probably our biggest crowd of the year. As a fan, this is what you want – to be loud and to support your team. We know Coe Brown is going to give it to us, so we have to give it back to them,” said Carlson.
“It really hyped us up and makes us want to impress the fans,” said Leader of the atmosphere at the game.
Both teams came out on attack to open the game, making it obvious to the crowd that it would be a long and physical game.
“If they come out harder than you do, then they’ll pretty much dominate the tempo of the game for the first half, and one half can can be the whole difference,” said Bobcat forward Tucker Henry (‘19).
The first half saw the ball move from side to side, but with no scoring result. Both teams played tough defense against one another, keeping the ball primarily in the midfield. Coe Brown goalkeeper Hogan Cain (‘21) prevented any potential scoring chances for the Bobcats.
A tightly contested game, which resulted in several whistles and free kicks, the score stood at 0-0 headed into the second half.
Oyster River players huddled up discussing what to improve upon in the 2nd half.
As both teams huddled at the break to discuss second half strategy, Oyster River coach Akan Ekanem stressed, “resetting the second half, and putting pressure all over the field.”
“[We] decided to move the ball out to the wings. By doing that it stretched their three in the back formation and allowed us to make runs from the center to the goal,” said Henry.
This proved to be the strategy to remedy the tough defensive pressure from CBNA.
Finally at 64:16, Caden Leader found the back of the net off of a cross from Caleb Chinburg (‘20) to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead.
The goal by Leader brought the student section to their feet, and a new energy to both the crowd and the Bobcats alike. Oyster River began to take control of possession.
At 71:40, Leader scored once again to make it 2-0 OR, this time off an assist from teammate Raphael Rodriguez (‘21).
Oyster River pushed to maintain tempo after the second goal by Leader.
“Whether you’re up 1-0 or 10-0, you still want to play like it’s tied. You still want your team to bring that energy,” said Henry.
Bobcats goalkeeper, Nick Cornejo (‘19), could be heard yelling for his team to keep up the physicality and play with a “0-0 mentality.”
Cornejo celebrated his birthday Wednesday with his 8th shutout in 12 games.
“The boat will rock back,” is the play style that the Bobcats have tried to roll with all year. Even when they take a lead, the team focuses on keeping the pressure on so as the momentum does not rock back in favor of their opposition.
With their foot still on the gas, Joe Morrell (‘20) added a final blow, a goal off of a pass from Quinn Wilson (‘19) in the 78th minute to seal CBNA’s fate.
Wednesday’s rival matchup was a makeup date for a game originally scheduled Tuesday, which was postponed due to weather.
Oyster River has now won 10 of their last 11 games. The only hiccup in that span being a 4-3 loss at the hands of a very physical Bow (7-3) team.
As the regular season comes to a close, the Bobcats are primed for a deep playoff run.