After three straight one-goal losses to begin county play, Atholton appears to be turning the corner.
On Friday night, against visiting Glenelg, the Raiders showcased an opportunistic offense and a shutdown defense that helped earn a 3-0 victory. It was the team’s second straight shutout, building on a 1-0 win over Howard on Tuesday.
“Tonight is the best we’ve played all year and, as I just told them, we probably would have won all three of the county games we lost with that effort,” Atholton coach Roch DeFrances said. “We’ve been kind of waiting to put it all together and part of that has been because we are still young.
“We’ve been kind of building toward a game like this and, you know, if you’re going to build momentum this is the time to do it.”
Against Howard earlier in the week, Atholton (2-3, 3-4) had picked up the victory even though its offense had struggled to finish. That wasn’t a problem against Glenelg (1-3-1, 2-3-1).
The Raiders got on the board right away, with Dylan Royalty dribbling down the left side and finishing a hard shot into the net off a Glenelg defender in the fourth minute.
Then, after controlling the run of play for the rest of the half, Atholton upped its lead up to 2-0 early in the second. Chris Johnson headed home a perfectly-placed free kick by Austin Durham to produce the goal eight minutes out of intermission.
“After the Howard game, where we had so many chances and not a lot to show for it, we pulled them aside for the last two days and really worked on a lot of those (offensive) things,” DeFrances said. “We just had to make a few adjustments to start getting the results.”
With 22:14 remaining in the game, Christian Brosnan put an exclamation point on the Raiders’ offensive outburst by slotting a shot into the left corner of the net. The three goals tied the team’s highest output of the season.
That was more than enough support for a defensive unit that held Glenelg without a shot on goal in the first half and to just six shots the entire game. Jack Jacobs, a senior all-county defender, led the way for a unit that played three goalies and rotated a host of players in and out without losing a beat.
“I think we were just all on the same page. No matter who was in there, we all just had the same philosophy that if we do our job, the easier it will be for our offense,” Jacobs said. “We feel like the energy we have in the back flows through the rest of the team.”
Glenelg, which has had a rollercoaster first half of the season, is now trying to regroup for a stretch run.
“To be honest, we’re playing a little distracted right now. Injuries, other things going on … we’re not playing with any focus,” Glenelg coach Andy Shearer said. “It’s frustrating, but the mark of a good team is how you respond from a stretch like this. We’ve got to find a win to build confidence, because right now we’re down.”
Atholton 3, Glenelg 0
Goals: A – Royalty, Johnson, Brosnan.
Assists: A – Durham.
Saves: A – Choi 2, Farnan 1; G – Haussler 4.
Half: 1-0 A.
Howard 1, Wilde Lake 0
Goal: Ho – Lillis.
Saves: Ho – Accardi 7; WL – N/A.