Tuesday October 9, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The Wahconah boys soccer team needed some rescuing on Monday.

Not a bad time for Landon Botkin to pick up his first varsity goal.

The junior chased down a ball on the wing before colliding with Taconic keeper Kevin Squires. Getting back on his feet, Botkin calmly pushed the ball into the open net to salvage a 1-1 draw at Taconic High School.

"I collided with the goalie and that was sort of nerve-wracking," Botkin said. "I sort of blacked out. I stood up real quick and I just touched it and kicked it in. There were two on me. Wow, I didn't think it was real at the time."

Botkin's tally in the 67th minute salvaged a point for the Warriors (4-4-4, 2-2-2 North) in a game where they dominated possession but struggled to finish. Playing without senior captain Nick Montferret in midfield due to yellow-card accumulation, Wahconah couldn't put one past Squires despite applying constant pressure.

Taconic (1-7-3, 0-5-1) broke through first, though, with Dominic Nda burying a ball that squirted behind defense off a corner kick in the 56th minute. Two minutes later, Wahconah's Matt Sheehan had to clear the ball off the goal line on another dangerous corner.

The Braves had trouble at times moving through the midfield, but when they did produce counters, Nda was dangerous up front in a new formation with Patrick Boua beside him. Boua delivered a nice ball in the final minutes that Nda just headed over the bar.

"We were having a little trouble getting the ball, moving it out," said Taconic coach Mark Wasnewsky. "One of the problems is because they always try to go to Dom, that kind of hurts us because it's straight up. I try to tell the guys to work the ball outside."

That same kind of direct attack from the Warriors left coach John Kovacs a little exasperated at times on the sideline. Wahconah showed strong offensive play in the beginning and end of the game, but had few quality chances in the middle. Beside the Botkin goal, Jeff Pullano had a laser that struck the crossbar from 20 yards out in the 10th minute. The Warriors also put together a flurry of chances in the final 13 minutes but couldn't get a winner.

"Once we go straight too much we're predictable. And you lose the ball," Kovacs said. "I think we did it better, especially after they scored. We started going side to side, being more patient and then finding the holes to Kevin [Boino] or whoever was up front. We had good pressure at the end. Enough pressure to win."

The Braves managed to weather that pressure and sneak out with the point. While Wasnewsky was hoping for the win, senior Mike Connors said he was happy with the draw.

"It was difficult," Connors said. "We played the counterattacks right. We were aggressive to the ball, spread the field and just played our hearts out."

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Taconic 1, Wahconah 1

Taconic 0 1 -- 1

Wahconah 0 1 -- 1

Second Half

T -- Dominic Nda (UA), 56:00.

W -- Landon Botkin (UA), 66:25.

Saves -- T: Kevin Squires 8; W: Nick Tutela 4.