Colonials Falter Late Against Royals
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
May 13, 2014, 10:45
Linwood Fraher was a bright spot for the Colonials in the loss.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — It isn't a stretch to say the Colonial Heights soccer team knows the type of talent they have. After all, this is a team which handed Prince George their only loss of the season, swept Dinwiddie and nearly knocked off Meadowbrook before conceding late.
But there have also been inconsistencies in their game with an inability to maintain their focus through an entire 80-minute game which has led to losses that should have been wins. After suffering one of those games in an overtime loss to Matoaca last week, the Colonials aimed to reverse their fortunes while ending the Royals' nine-game winning streak with another win against their old Central Region rivals.
And for the first 50 minutes of the match, Colonial Heights seemed likely to do just that.
The Colonials attacked the Royals' back four with a ruthlessness right from the opening whistle, making great attacking run with a great scoring chance after just two minutes of action. After repossessing the ball in the midfield, Lindwood Fraher, Jake Tyler and Cody Beeler immediately turned upfield and each got in behind the defense.
It was a 3-on-0 with just the goalkeeper to beat, but Fraher's right-footed blast was not hit properly, spinning wide-left of the net and wasting a good scoring opportunity. However, 15 minutes later, the Colonials would find their elusive goal.
On another breakaway opportunity, Royals' goalkeeper Logan Chadek made an initial diving stop, but couldn't corrall the rebound as it rolled to the foot of the Colonials' most dangerous scorer. Tyler never slowed down or broke down his pace, calmly taking a left-footed blast and depositing it into the back of the net for the early lead.
Much like the two teams' last meeting, it seemed it would be all the Colonials would need to earn another win as they continued a dominating effort while slowing down the Royals' attack. But the Royals would soon take control and turn on the heat, making attacking runs at will to put the Colonials on their heels.
Then, Darion Mealing would score two goals in a nine-minute span of the second half of play, sealing the Colonials' fate in a 2-1 loss Monday night.
"I think we still had a few good opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the second half while trying to get that second goal," Colonials head coach J.P. McNulty said following the game. "They're keeper was fantastic tonight ... our game plan was mostly executed except we didn't put the ball in the back of the net."
Credit for their inability to not find the elusive second goal falls on the defensive organization of the Royals who continually kept the ball off the foot of Tyler while attempting to force others to beat them.
Although, Tyler would have a couple of good scoring chances, one in which he converted, his teammates also had chances presented for them. Without Chadek's world-class effort in net, Colonial Heights could have been up by three or four goals through the game's first 20 minutes against any other team.
However, with each save Chadek made — McNulty had him marked down for eight on the night — the Colonials grew more frustrated, resulting in a team which could not concentrate on the task at hand and struggled to build an attack through the back to find Tyler in a scoring position, making it more important for others to step up.
"It helped to have Linwood up there because he had a ton of touches," McNulty explained. "I like Beeler and (Zac) Pryor up there, they're two of the best, and they took advantage of some gaps as well. It gave us some more of that pressure which is what we wanted, but we couldn't find the goal."
However, even in a loss, Fraher's play impressed McNulty.
In the game's first half of action, no player on the pitch looked to be more dangerous than the junior midfielder. Fraher constantly moved up the flanks with attacking runs while also playing great off-the-ball to get in behind the defense.
In fact, it was a Fraher corner kick in the 8' minute which nearly resulted in a goal. Fraher's outswinging kick zeroed in on Tyler in the box who chested the ball down before back-heeling it to Beeler right in front of the net. The senior co-captain blasted it on target, but Chadek made an instinctive save.
But Fraher wasn't done.
He also was the key assist man on the a 43' minute strike from Tyler just outside of the box with a great ball played in off the right-flank. The way he was able to play off of Tyler to create dangerous chances is something McNulty was impressed with and will have to consider doing more often.
"The two of them were awesome together," McNulty said of the duo. "It's good news for the future in the next week or two as the playoffs get closer. It gives us more options."
Jake Tyler tallied another goal in the loss, but was kept in check by the Royals all game long.
However, the key for the Colonials is to take a lesson from a tough loss.
For 50 minutes of actions, Colonial Heights dominated possession and snuffed out any counter attempt from the Royals. But over the last 30 minutes, the Colonials lost their edge and allowed the Royals' offense to get rolling to steal a road win.
"It seems like all of the games we've had have been like this except fot that first Prince George game," McNulty said. "Meadowbrook 3-2 in the last five minutes, this one and Matoaca. We've had the opportunities, but for some reason the ball won't find the net for us."
But if the Colonials can reverse course over the next week, a long playoff run can be in the future for a team talented enough to create opportunities at will.