DANVERS — The St. John’s Prep soccer team (2-0-1) utilized its home-field advantage Tuesday (Sept. 12), taking care of business in a 3-0 win against Malden Catholic.
“I’m happy we got the 3-0 result,” Prep coach David Crowell said. “Overall, [it was] a good day. They made it tough.”
Malden Catholic made its game plan apparent from the jump, packing its players in the defensive zone in an attempt to stop Prep’s attack.
And for the first 30 minutes of the game, it worked.
“We could see a team do that to us in the tournament, you know, just really pack it in like that,” Crowell said. “So, it was good to see that for us, to play a different kind of style.”
After consistently peppering the opposing net for most of the first half – including several chances from sophomore Garrison Murphy – the Eagles got on the board courtesy of captain Jake Vana (1-0).
After an awarded free kick from 35 yards out, midfielder Shamus Flaherty quickly played the ball to Vana, who took the deep shot and buried it while the Catholic defense was still setting up.
“I took a shot and I guess the goalie wasn’t even looking when I shot it, so it just happened to hit the net and go in,” Vana said. “It was a great play by Shamus to play quick.”
Once the deadlock was broken, it didn’t take long for St John’s to add to its lead. Just minutes later, it was Flaherty again, this time doing the scoring.
A scrum in front of the net ended with the ball on his foot. From there, he ripped it into the upper 90 for a 2-0 advantage moments before the half.
The second half was more of the same, as St John’s dominant play on both sides of the ball continued. With just three Eagles back, Malden Catholic used its counter attack to try and get one on the board. Prep’s back line stayed dominant, however, and kept goalie Matt Droggitis out of trouble.
Vana was appreciative of his strong defensive core.
“It just gives you so much confidence that you can make a mistake and know that nothing bad will happen because [the defense] will be there,” he said.
Towards the end of the match, St John’s added another as Cole Morrison earned his first-ever varsity goal with a tap into the bottom corner, also earning him the team’s golden boot for the game.
After the 3-0 victory, Crowell said “we did what we had to do.”
“All said and done, everybody got in, nobody got hurt,” Crowell said.
The reigning state champions are off to yet another strong start to the season, but Vana is taking a step back from the hype.
“We’re not last year. We don’t need to be last year to be successful,” Vana said. “We’re taking it one day at a time.”
And to no one’s surprise, his coach agreed.
“Well, [this year’s team] is not state champions. We’ve got a great core of kids back,” he said. “I’m really happy with the way kids are invested, and they believe, I believe, and we’ll see what happens.”