ANDOVER – It turned at the drop of a hat. The momentum, the lead, and eventually the match slipped away from the Andover soccer team on Tuesday, in a 3-2 loss to the Valley Center Hornets at Trojan Stadium.
Down a man for most of the match, and then by two goals at the 60 minute mark, the Hornets struck for three goals in ten minutes and then held on to secure the victory.
"We got ahead of ourselves," Andover head coach Jose Gonzalez said afterwards. "We just took for granted that they were going to roll over with a man down. No excuses, we just let the game get away from us."
The Trojans gained a man advantage in the 23rd minute when a red card was handed out to Valley Center’s Logan Glidewell for taking down Andover forward Cooper Brucker on a breakaway opportunity. Brucker’s subsequent free kick was saved by Hornet keeper Isaiah Stokes.
The match was scoreless at the half after both teams threatened but could not find the back of the net. Arguably, Valley Center was closest to getting on the board with a pair of shots that hit off the right post.
In the second half, Andover continued to try and find that right combination to get a goal. It came in the 51st minute on a counter attack. The ball came to a sprinting Jack Moll who had to direct a shot from a wide left angle and the Trojan midfielder did so brilliantly, firing past Stokes to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Andover continued to press the issue and look dangerous. They doubled their lead at the hour mark when a long ball from midfield came to striker Chase Chanminaraj who stayed onside and beat Stokes to the ball. Chanminaraj tapped the ball home and the Trojans looked like they were well on their way to victory.
But immediately afterward, the match shifted. Just over one minute later, Valley Center’s Cade Martin got a look at goal straightaway from about 30 yards and his shot found the bottom left corner. Just like that, the Hornets were within 2-1.
In the 64th minute, after Andover was on the attack, Valley Center snuffed it out and began a counter. Hornet forward Jeffery Ju found room and slotted a shot past Trojan keeper Micaiah Mann to equalize, just four minutes after the Hornets had fallen behind by a pair of goals.
With the sudden momentum shift, the Trojans tried to reestablish a rhythm, but they would succumb to another long range strike from Martin who again found the bottom left corner just inside the post in the 69th minute.
Valley Center led 3-2 and now had to hold the lead in the final minutes. Andover’s best chance to tie came in the 74th minute when Brucker curled a shot toward the top right corner but Stokes reached and managed to get a fist on the ball for a remarkable save. The Trojans continued to press forward but the Hornets had an answer and their defensive back line helped Stokes avoid further stress the rest of the way.
For the Trojans, it was a tough pill to swallow but Gonzalez knows his team has to move on quickly with a home match against cross-town rival Andover Central coming up on Thursday.
"We have to take control of our own destiny if we want to be able to host playoff games and get a higher seed," Gonzalez said. "It’s going to be a good show and hopefully we get things situated and we get a good result."
Valley Center0;3 – 3
Andover0;2 – 2
51’ – A – Jack Moll
60’ – A – Chase Chaminaraj
61’ – V – Cade Martin
64’ – V – Jeffery Ju
69’ – V – Martin