SWANTON — There was very little difference between 9-2 Middlebury and the 2-8-1 MVU boys soccer teams as they played in the senior game Tuesday afternoon.
The Tigers scored a goal in each half to edge the Thunderbirds 2-0.
“We are so close,” commented MVU coach Jim Hubbard. “We have a blue collar team, that is if we don’t get outworked, we’ll be in the game. Our defense isn’t flashy, but we are solid.
“Losing Caleb (Perry) for an indefinite period is going to hurt. He’s got great skills. We’re moving people around to try to get the right fit.”
MVU nearly scored in the first minute of play when Ryan Raleigh broke in on the right side and fed Ashton Chevalier, who was in behind goalie Logan Pierson-Flagg.
Chevalier was unable to score as he was covered by a defender who cleared.
Then it was Middlebury’s turn. Eben Jackson, who looks like he could dribble in a phone booth, got the ball just outside the 18. Some fancy footwork got him by the defenders, and his shot against the grain found the back of the net for the first score.
The Thunderbirds had the only good scoring chances the rest of the half.
On a throw in deep in the Tiger zone, the ball again got behind the goalie and onto the foot of David Vila whose shot was blocked by a defender.
Then came a play that, in some ways, sums up the T-Bird season. Raleigh crossed the ball to an open Steven King who rifled the ball by everyone and nailed the goal post.
“We score there, it’s a whole different game,” said Hubbard. “At this level, you need the one timer and Steven did everything right except it hit the post.”
Early in the second half, the Tigers were awarded a penalty kick and Jackson delivered to make the score 2-0.
MVU goalie Kyle Gilbert kept the score 2-0 when he went horizontal to push a shot wide with 25 minutes left.
Middlebury was awarded a corner kick, one of only three in the game, but was unable to capitalize on it.
With four minutes left in the contest, Raleigh drew a foul in the box and the Thunderbirds were awarded a penalty kick but were unable convert. The game ended 2-0.
“We limited them to 3 or 4 scoring chances,” stated Hubbard. “We had some good chances that first half; we just need to catch a break. I’m proud of the way the guys played, and when we get in the tournament the other team better not be sleeping.”
The Tigers feature 12 seniors while MVU has six playing their last season. Gilbert, Colin Digby, Owen Charleston, Colbey Treberge, Caleb Perry, and Mason Lemnah have played their last regular season game at Fiarkoski Field.