ANDOVER – On a windy and chilly Tuesday night at Jaguar Stadium, it was not so much the elements that got in the way of the Andover Central soccer team as it was an impressive showing from the Maize Eagles.
The visitors struck for goals early in each half on their way to a 2-0 victory, dropping the Jaguars to 3-1 overall.
"We schedule a hard schedule and those are the kind of fights you come up against," Central head coach Steven Huskey said afterward. "(Maize) has some real talented guys."
The weather was somewhat of a factor. After the forecasted cold front swept through the area early in the afternoon, there was a steady northwest wind that greatly affected any ball struck with some momentum.
Maize had the wind at their back in the first half and after each side saw a bit of possession, it was on a counter attack in the 15th minute that the Eagles were able to capitalize. A pass found forward Mikey Velasquez who did not miss his chance in front of goal and Maize took a 1-0 lead.
For the rest of the half, the Jaguar defense held firm. However, the hosts were not able to create much on the offensive end and they went into halftime a goal down.
As the second half began, Central seemed poise to strike with the wind at their back. After a save from Eagle keeper Grant Wessley in the 42nd minute, the Jaguars found their opportunities limited from that point.
Maize began to connect more consistently with short and medium range passes. That allowed them to set up a more dangerous attack. In the 51st minute off a corner kick, the ball bounced to the foot of Tanner Prophet who converted at the back post for a 2-0 Maize lead.
The Eagles nearly added a third goal as they missed on three separate point blank chances, but it did not matter as any semblance of an attack from the Jaguars was quickly snuffed out.
The best chance in the final minutes for Central came in the 70th minute when the Eagles failed to clear a loose ball at the top of the 18-yard box. Jaguar forward Blake Gravatt saw the ball come to his left foot, but he lost his balance as he tried to set up a shot. Wessley recovered the ball and the threat was extinguished.
Maize’s all-around effort limited Central to just four shots on the night. But it was the defense that Huskey wants to see more improvement from.
"The center-backs need to communicate more," Huskey noted. "Early on (Maize) got three chances, one offside, one shot wide, one goal. There has to be constant communication."
The loss marks just the third regular season defeat for Central since 2018. The schedule does not get any easier for the Jaguars, as they will next take on Derby out of Class 6A.
"Two errors, two goals," Huskey said. "We have to find a way to overcome that."
Halftime: Maize 1-0. Maize: Velasquez (1), Prophet (1). Shots: Maize 11, Andover Central 4. Saves: Maize: Wessley 2; Andover Central: Bumgarner 2.