The Caravel Buccaneers defeated Wilmington Friends Tuesday afternoon in a match that many believe could be a preview of the division two state finals in boys’ soccer. The first half consisted of a tremendous amount of back and forth between the two teams as neither squad was able to possess the ball long enough in their offensive third to secure any real scoring opportunities. The ball was often cleared out of harm’s way by the Buccaneer and Quakers defenses which was just as much a reflection of poor offensive attacks by both teams as it was a direct result of strong defense. Caravel did earn multiple corner kicks as the half progressed but none resulted in a shot on goal. Friends secured the momentum for a brief time toward the end of the half but the half ultimately ended without either team having a shot on goal in an uneventful first 40 minutes.
Then things got interesting. 90 seconds into the second half, Caravel midfielder Miles Hood blasted a right-footed shot into the back of the net which subsequently added a spark to both teams. The Quakers spent the next 10 minutes on the attack with a much more calculated and patient approach yielding multiple shots on goal, including a header that the Buccaneer goalie was just able to push outside the goal post with a diving one-handed save with 27 minutes to go in the game. The Quakers would finally break through at the 23 minute mark. #23, Kato Conner made a series of clever moves just outside the 18 yard box and sent a right-footed shot past the Buccaneer keeper to tie the game.
With 20 minutes to go in the game, both teams slowed down the pace of their attacks and became much more thoughtful as they moved the ball up the field. The slower pace lent itself to a much better played second half and demonstrated what each team is capable of when they make the necessary adjustments. The evenly played half came to what felt like an anti-climactic end when a Caravel player was taken down just inside the penalty box with only 2:47 left in the game just following a Buccaneer corner kick. Midfielder Zain Akhtar sent the penalty kick into the back of the net while simultaneously taking the proverbial wind out of the Quaker players’ sails. The Buccaneers would go on to score one more goal on a header inside the 6-yard box that came off a rebound that the Quaker keeper was unable to secure. The loss drops Wilmington Friends to 9-1-1, while Caravel improves to 9-3 with their 3 losses coming to CR, Wilmington Charter and Sallies respectively. Friends will travel to Tatnall for a game on Saturday while Caravel will play Newark Charter Friday afternoon.
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