Friday, September 9, 2022

Windham boys’ soccer defeats Westbrook in season opener

By Matt Pascarella 

Senior Owen Gaulrapp of Windham pauses for a moment
before passing the ball during a boys' varsity soccer game
against Westbrook. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  

The Windham High School varsity boys’ soccer team came to play in the regular season opener against Westbrook and while the Blue Blazes were a more aggressive team than they’ve been in the past, the Eagles got the early season ‘W’ and beat Westbrook 5-1 at Westbrook on Saturday, Sept. 3.

Roughly 20 minutes into the first half, Windham senior Owen Gaulrapp scored off a corner kick that sailed past the goalie. Barely seven minutes later, sophomore Luke Cunniffe sent a forceful ball at goal that found the back of the net.

Windham would find the back of the net three more times in the second half. Senior Tyler Johnsen scored on a penalty kick and a direct shot at goal. Cunniffe scored again from 15 yards away.

“We knew Westbrook was going to come in wanting to beat us, because we beat them twice last year, said Cunniffe. “It took us 20 minutes to score our first goal, but once we scored, we were different. Everyone’s confidence was up.”

Cunniffe said this Westbrook team was more intense. He knew Windham had to keep the intensity up. This win is a good start, and they will keep moving forward from here. 

Windham took the field early on with excellent communication and worked hard to be first to the ball. Defense was great with Windham sophomore goalie Lukas Hammond who made several solid saves.

Windham dominated the field in the first half. After Gualrapp scored, Windham really pressured. The Eagles came at the Westbrook goalie with multiple shots in the final minutes of the first half. Windham led 2-0 midway through.

“We worked great together,” said senior Tyler Johnsen. “Super excited for our upcoming games, the intensity was great, our finishing was great, our defense was amazing. I just think we're working great together for our first game.”

Johnsen said the win was important because the team will be able to build off this first win.

Windham’s shots on goal were immediate in the second half. About 5 minutes 30 seconds in, Johnsen scored on a penalty kick.

Windham continued to move the ball well. Cunniffe scored with a kick from the left side that got between the posts.

Westbrook was able to score, but Windham defense allowed only one goal. Johnsen scored again but Windham’s significant lead was too much for the Blue Blazes as the clock ran out.

“This was an opportunity to see us in a real live, competitive situation said Windham varsity boys’ soccer coach Jeff Neal. “We’ve been a little injured, a little dinged up throughout the preseason and today was a good opportunity and certainly the players were anxious to get out and get on it. Love the ball, possession, love the communication.”

Neal said having so many players “tickle the twine,” being able to press, dictate the flow of play, move as a unit and drop in as a unit were positives. There are some things that still need work, but for a first game, it’s a great start. <

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