By Jeremy Balan
The Drew School boys soccer team’s offensive strategy against Leadership on Thursday was pretty obvious.
With Leadership’s back line aggressively playing up near midfield, the Dragons found success with long balls to speedy forward Richard Leon, but the junior struggled to get the ball in the net.
After five breakaway opportunities that fell short, Leon finally connected in the 45th minute of the Dragons’ 2-0 Bay Counties League Central win at the Crocker Amazon Soccer Fields.
On a pass from midfield by senior Santiago Martinez, Leon again broke behind the Griffins’ (3-2-1, 2-1-1) back line, then tried to chip the ball over Leadership goalkeeper David Venegas. Venegas made the initial save, but the ball bounced right back to Leon and he calmly tapped in the goal to break a scoreless tie.
“He’s extremely dynamic out there,” Drew head coach Daniel Philpot said of Leon’s play. “He had a couple of shots he wishes he had back and he may be frustrated he didn’t put away more, but it’s good to have the win and to be able to get some goals.”
The Dragons (5-3-0, 4-0-0) then held off a late Leadership push in the final minutes, then put the game away with a goal in the 80th minute, off a free kick from Marcus Mason that found Zachary Bauke unmarked in the penalty area.
As well as Drew played in the second half, the Dragons were lucky to escape the first locked in a scoreless tie.
The Griffons out-chanced the Dragons in the first half and sent five shots on target, but didn’t put a shot on net in the second.
Leadership’s best scoring opportunity of the first half came on a shot from 30 yards out by sophomore Jordy Lopez. The ball sailed toward the top half of the net, but Drew goalkeeper Alexander Williams leapt up and tipped the ball off the crossbar.
“The save that Drew’s keeper made was just unbelievable, but we needed to make more chances,” said Leadership head coach Greg Perieff. “We had good chances, but they were too few and far between.”