NORTH ANSON — It was quick and it was clinical, even if it wasn’t effortless.
Effort, at least early on, was part of the problem. Monmouth Academy boys soccer coach Joe Fletcher was so dispirited by his team’s lack of effort that he plucked all four members of his starting midfield off the pitch at the 10-minute mark, sending the clear message that a higher work rate was going to be required.
The Mustangs scored the first of their three first-half goals only three minutes later, sending themselves off to a 7-0 Mountain Valley Conference win over Carrabec on Monday afternoon. Freshman Hayden Fletcher was the hat trick hero, while junior midfielder Gabe Martin scored twice. Thomas Neal and Cameron Armstrong also scored for Monmouth (3-2-0).
“We’re so young that I want us to understand that we have to compete all the time,” Joe Fletcher said of his team. “It’s not preparing for just this game — it’s preparing for October.”
In a twist of irony, the same midfield called into question by their coach so early in the contest provided the difference in this one.
Monmouth’s ability to turn wins in the midfield into quick counter attacks helped the visitors rack up 34 shot attempts — more than 70 percent of which (24 in all) ended up on frame.
“We made sure to capitalize, especially on the through balls,” Martin said. “Our speed up top is very good this year.”
Martin’s play was important in getting the Mustangs going as the game wore on.
“Our midfielders are coming together,” Martin said. “We’re able to make runs, and we don’t even have to talk to make those runs. It’s just mind to mind, and we know what’s going on.”
Only Carrabec senior goalkeeper Brad Clark and his 18 saves kept the contest from being much more one-sided than it was.
“Our goalie is amazing,” Carrabec coach Ross Sirois said of Clark. “I’m glad to have him around.”
Chasing a 3-0 deficit at halftime, the backbreaker for Carrabec (0-3-0) came in the form of goals from both Fletcher and Armstrong inside the first eight minutes of the second period.
“We attack well and we play with a lot of skill,” Joe Fletcher said. “We moved well without the ball.”
Sirois thought his team played well in stretches, particularly early on when the Cobras had Monmouth frustrated and unable to stretch its collective attacking legs.
“You saw the first 20 minutes — that’s our team,” Sirois said. “We just have to maintain that throughout the game. We’ve got a good, talented group of kids. They’re younger, but they can maintain. If we’d have done that for the whole game, it might have been 2-1 or something similar.”
N ANSON, ME – SEPTEMBER 10, 2018
Monmouth Acdemy’s Gabe Martin (23) scores a goal on Carrabec High School goalie Bradly Clark as he is defended by Carrabec’s TK Pray (16) and Ethan Knox (5) in North Anson on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (Staff Photo by Michael G. Seamans/Staff Photographer)