Just three games into the season, Marriotts Ridge is developing the look of a juggernaut.
With a midfield that’s dominating time of possession, an offense that is finishing chances and a defense that still hasn’t allowed a goal, the Mustangs are off and running this fall with three straight county wins.
The most recent of those victories, a 4-0 win over Atholton Friday night, was a pretty accurate snapshot of the team’s balance thus far. Three different guys scored goals for a Marriotts Ridge (3-0, 3-0) team that outshot the visiting Raiders, 21-5.
“We’re really trying to attack … getting the ball forward quickly, getting people forward and trying to overwhelm teams,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Kevin Flynn, who has watched his team score at least four goals in each game thus far.
“We know we’re going to get our chances on set pieces too, so somewhere in there the goals are going to come.”
Against Atholton (2-1, 2-1-1), the first Mustang goal didn’t come until midway through the first half and it took a little luck. Connor Delaney heaved a long throw into the box that deflected off the hands of Raider goalie Trevor Graham (6 saves) and into the net.
But with the seal broken, it didn’t take long for the Mustangs to get score No. 2. Just four minutes after the first goal, Brad Martinelli played a perfect lead ball to Jeff Kammerer, who finished on a breakaway.
“We missed a few (shots) early on, but the good news is that we’re getting a lot of chances,” Martinelli said. “As long as we keep getting the ball up there, we know one or two are eventually going to go in.”
Atholton regrouped well after allowing the two scores, making a couple dangerous counter-attack runs and holding tight defensively over the next 40 minutes of game time.
But, eventually, the Marriotts Ridge pressure paid off again.
Martinelli headed home a perfect cross from Kammerer with 11:40 left in regulation to make it a three-goal game. Then, with 2:44 left, Delaney capitalized on his height advantage inside to head home a long throw from Nick Applegate.
“We’re not as physical and certainly not as big as they are and that’s going to wear you down over the course of a game,” Atholton coach Roch Defrances said. “They bring forward guys like (Delaney), standing 6-foot-4, and that’s just tough to match-up with.”
With its offense clicking, that’s taken pressure of the Marriotts Ridge defense. First-year Mustang goalie Ryan Miller had to make just two saves to preserve the shutout.
“If they can’t get the ball on our end, then they can’t get chances and they can’t score,” Martinelli said.
For Atholton, the loss was a setback, but one that it has plenty of time to bounce back from.
“We’re very young and very inexperienced — I only bring back two starters from last year — so it’s going to take some time,” Defrances said. “The key is that we have to continue getting better every game as we move toward playoffs.”
Marriotts Ridge 4, Atholton 0
Goals: MR - Delaney 2, Martinelli, Kammerer.
Assists: MR - Martinelli, Applegate, Kammerer.
Saves: MR - Miller 2; A - Graham 6.
Half: 2-0 MR
Reservoir 2, Glenelg 1 OT