CUMBERLAND — Greely held most of the possession in the first half of its quarterfinal matchup with Gray-New Gloucester to the tune of 10 corner kicks in the first 40 minutes alone.
On the Rangers’ fourth and fifth corners, just 123 seconds apart, Chase Cornwall put in two balls at the near post to give his team a two-goal lead en route to a 3-0 win to advance to the Class B South semifinals.
Third-seeded Greely has a few different times of set pieces off of corner kicks. Head coach Mike Andreasen was aware of tall Gray-NG midfielder Jacob Kackmeister’s ability to head balls away, so the Rangers went with a ground-ball approach. It paid off.
“One of our plays we play a low-drilled ball to the near post,” Andreasen said. “We couldn’t play high because their goalie is so good, and then they have Jake, who wins everything in the air. We couldn’t beat them in the air so we had to try to feed them low, and luckily a couple of our corner kicks found the net.”
The Rangers earned their fourth corner of the game with about 24 minutes remaining. The kick was deflected in front of Cornwall, who tipped it in past a diving Gray-NG goalkeeper Brannon Gilbert, who couldn’t quite keep the ball out of the net.
A little more than two minutes later, Cornwall found himself by the near post again on Greely’s next corner. Lucas Goettel’s kick found its way to the swinging leg of Cornwall, who ripped a shot into the back of the net — a no-doubt goal, unlike his first.
“We have set pieces for different positioning,” Cornwall said. “If the near post is open, we called, ‘One.’ If the middle was open, we would call, ‘Two,’ and we would play, ‘Three,’ and the near post was open both times so we called that and it worked out. I think the whole team’s energy pumped up a lot, and everyone started playing as a team instead of playing selfishly.”
Gray-New Gloucester head coach Andrew Higgins said corner kicks have been a problem since the Patriots’ opening game against Greely.
“They had too many corners, and we talked about that before the game,” Higgins said. “The first time we played this year, it was at home and it seemed like every possession they had was a corner. And so with a well-coached team like that you capitalize on those and you execute and they did. They made us pay. It’s something we are going to learn from.”
The Patriots had a few chances in the first half, most notably when Nick McCann crossed a ball to the left in front of the Greely net to set up a Tristan Fogg shot that was saved. However, Greely owned too much of the possession for the Patriots to create any kind of lasting offense.
In the second half, Cornwall headed a ball to teammate Pietro Ambrosini, who headed it in the goal to take a 3-0 lead with 24 minutes remaining in the match.
“We tried to play them on the counter and when they were moving in transition — when they are moving we tried to play the ball in behind them,” Andreasen said. “That didn’t work too well because we only got one of our goals in transition play. But we had to be patient and play 80 minutes, and tonight we thought it might be 110 minutes.”
Gray-NG was down for the majority of the game, but Higgins wasn’t worried about his players. The Patriots started the season 0-4-1 but finished 7-3-1. Quitting is not his team’s style.
“These guys don’t know how to quit,” Higgins said. “It could have been 100-0 and they would have fought all the way through. That’s all they know. They’ll never quit. They could have quit at 0-4-1, but they didn’t and we are all proud.”
The two head coaches spent all day talking about the game as each teach in a classroom just a few feet away from each other at Gray-New Gloucester High School. Many of the players know one another and Cornwall appreciated that aspect.
“I just like them. Both teams were intense and both teams played played hard,” Cornwall said. “The sportsmanship was great and everyone was helping each other up.”