By Jeremy Balan
In Lowell’s first game without legendary soccer coach Ernie Feibusch, the Cardinals dismantled perennial power Mission in a 4-0 victory on Tuesday at Lowell High School.
“I was a little bit nervous. It’s his legacy, his field,” said first-year head coach Marcos Estebez, looking up at the sign over Lowell’s field that is adorned with Feibusch’s name.
Estebez is replacing Feibusch, who retired last season after coaching for 44 years at Lowell.
“Starting off new, I’m amazed that we won. I was just hoping that the game would be close and that I’d still be employed next week.” Estebez joked.
The win is the first for the Cardinals on the season and the first in Academic Athletic Association play.
“It was amazing,” Estebez said. “They’ve been our nemesis. [The game against Mission] has always been our toughest game. I still can’t believe the final score.”
The Cardinals struck first in the 13th minute, on an impressive strike from senior Leo Harrington.
Off a Mission turnover at midfield after a Bears’ free kick, Harrington saw that Mission goalkeeper Jose Guevara-Fuentes was out of position and fired a picture-perfect shot from about 35 yards away.
“The goalie was off the line, so I decided to take a shot and hit it pretty well,” Harrington said. “It was one of the better goals I’ve scored.”
Lowell added two other goals in the first half from Max Pollard and Camilo Grabowski in the 19th and 31st minutes, respectively, and created many more opportunities on the multiple Mission turnovers at midfield.
“The formation that we chose to play today just happened to really work,” Estebez said. “Our goal was to control the midfield. The system worked, we had the right players in the right places and they executed.”
The Cardinals capped the game’s scoring in the second half on a headed-in goal from senior Penn Scobie off an accurate corner kick from Harrington in the 44th minute.
While Lowell controlled possession throughout, Mission (2-4-2, 1-1-0) appeared frazzled at times, a stark contrast from its performance on Friday, when the Bears had a dominating 4-0 win over 2009 AAA champion O’Connell.
Mission apparently had some issues with attendance at practice recently, influencing its presence and play on the field.
“I’ve got nothing. I’ve got nothing to say,” Mission head coach Scott Kennedy said. “When the seniors start showing up to practice, then maybe we’ll be able to play better.”
The one bright spot for Mission was the play of Guevara-Fuentes, who continues to be the Bears’ standout performer. If not for six acrobatic Guevara-Fuentes saves, Lowell’s margin of victory could have been considerably larger.