Near misses piling up for Derry boys soccer
Ask anyone on the Derry boys soccer team what the score to their next match will be and chances are you hear the same response: 2-1.
A season of close calls that mostly have not gone the Trojans' way has produced that score five times in 11 games entering this week. The Trojans are 1-4 in those games, including a streak of three straight 2-1 losses in late September.
“(It seems like) every game we lose is 2-1,” Derry coach Bruce Gorski said. “It's uncanny.
“Sometimes you have bad bounces and bad breaks, and sometimes you have to overcome that. That's kind of been the picture of our season. You have to show some character and stick through that and overcome that.”
The toughest break was losing then-leading scorer Andrew Downey (3 goals, 7 assists) to a knee injury for six games. During that stretch, the Trojans suffered through a four-game losing streak, all in Section 1-AA. Three of those four loses came by a score of — you guessed it — 2-1.
Gorski and senior Dominic Craine share the philosophy that a team can create its own luck on the pitch. It all comes down to executing when necessary and the close games are a product of being good, but not good enough at times.
“It all comes down to big plays and we didn't finish as much as we should have,” Craine said. “Our offense should have scored a lot more than we did.”
Craine is one of several talented players on the team and a leader in practice. He has four assists, second only to Downey.
“He can dribble through a crowd like I've never seen anybody do,” Gorski said. “When he's vocal he can turn an average player into a very good player.”
The Trojans are led offensively by senior forward Alex Stemmler's 11 goals and two assists. And there is Downey, a senior midfielder, who unfortunately showed just how valuable he is to the team by missing time. However, he made his presence known Thursday in a 3-3 tie at Greensburg Salem.
“He's our workhouse, so that really hurt,” Gorski said. “Against Greensburg he scored two goals, so you can see how he was a missing element.”
On defense, the Trojans have quite the enforcer in Dominic Volpe, perhaps better known by his nickname, Thor. Gorski said when Volpe goes up for a header the opposition tends to let him have it rather than go against a young man resembling the mythical strongman. In addition to his brawn, Volpe has displayed nice touch and some craftiness. One of his trademarks is kicking the ball off an opponent near the sideline so that it goes out of bounds and the Trojans gain possession.
The Trojans (3-7-1, 2-7-1) are second to last in the section with three games to go. A playoff run is out of the picture, but a competitive fire still burns. After playing so many close games, the Trojans are looking to create their own luck now and string together a few wins to end the season.
“We just want to do our best and knock other teams out of the playoffs,” Craine said.
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.