SHARON, Mass – The Sharon Eagles have been the boys’ soccer team with the most preseason buzz in 2012 and on a warm afternoon against the defending Kelly-Rex champion Franklin Panthers, they showed why. Sharon scored twice in the final 10 minutes to come from behind for an exciting 3-2 victory that sent the bench racing onto the field and had even head coach Barry Kaye leaping for joy.
After Franklin had taken a 2-1 lead with just 13 minutes to go, it seemed as though the Panthers had stolen the points, but just two minutes later Eagles captain Ian Beach found space on the right, fed the ball to Jake Steinberg who made space of his own and cut it back to Beach for a clinical finish. Things got even better for the Eagles two minutes later when defender Josh Rosenblum hit a powerful header off a corner that was turned home at the far post. Initially the goal was given to Hassan Houdroge, but was later called an own goal.
Kaye was thrilled to get the win on opening day, “We wanted to start 1-0, that was our premise for two months now and we did it. They played great. We had a one goal lead, had a letdown, and they didn’t quit. I think that shows the senior leadership.”
Sharon had the lead 17 minutes into the game when senior captain Tim Peng found the back of the net. Franklin evened the score in the 33rd minute when Joe Kalil found a ton of space right in front of goal, although the Sharon defenders were screaming that the Panthers midfielder was offsides.
Both teams struggled to get a passing rhythm early in the game and afterwards both coaches acknowledged nerves were a major culprit. In the second half the game was more open, although still very physical, and both teams had chances with Kalil skying one over the bar from outside the 18 and Panthers defender Jack Duffy making a goal saving block on one Sharon chance.
The Panthers took a 2-1 lead on a goal by sophomore Scotty Donaldson, who played a give and go with Tim Larowe to create an opening in an otherwise stout Sharon defense. Donaldson’s excellent first touch on the return pass allowed him time to finish. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the lead was short-lived.
“I don’t know what it was, but give Sharon credit because they stormed back on us and I thought once we gave up the second goal we really lost our composure,” commented Franklin coach Fran Bositis. “I thought we fought hard right up to the end, but I thought we lost our composure.”
Franklin star midfielder Zach Scafati was held in check for much of the game although it was his brilliant dribble in the first half that took out three Sharon defenders and created the opening for Kalil. Scafati played most of the game at central defender. One positive note for Franklin was senior defender Brian Sasserman, who had injured his knee during the summer, running at halftime. The Panthers will hope to have him back this season.
Sharon will get a lot of credit for their ability to go forward with players such as Peng, Beach, and Steinberg, but they were also very solid at the back. Rosenblum, Kevin Bartas, and David Shlepakov each had important performances defensively.
Both teams will be in action on Monday with Sharon traveling to newcomers Taunton and Franklin hosting Stoughton.