Down a goal against Baltimore County rival Perry Hall at halftime Wednesday, the Eastern Tech boys soccer team mostly talked about playing more composed in the second half.
In a couple of pivotal moments, midfielders Dillon Nesteruk and Ahmed Abd-Elazem were exactly that for the No. 10 Mavericks.
Nesteruk tied the game off a pass from Abd-Elazem in the 53rd minute and then Abd-Elazem produced the game winner from Nesteruk with 15 minutes left as Eastern Tech claimed a 2-1 win over the host Gators.
In both cases, the connecting passes and goals that followed were precise. Considering the competition they welcomed in the early part of the schedule, Eastern Tech coach Peter Glaudemans is pleased to see his defending Class 2A champions at 3-1-1 with other wins coming against ranked C. Milton Wright and Bel Air. On Wednesday, it was Nesteruk and Abd-Elazem playing the lead roles.
“It’s like they are twin brothers,” Glaudemans said of the two. “They just read each other’s mind and they both work exceedingly hard and they are gifted enough on a technical level to back up what they try to do.”
Perry Hall (1-3) did more than stay on even terms with the Mavericks, getting an early goal from Jared Mejia to take the 1-0 halftime lead.
A chance at a two-goal lead 10 minutes into the second half went for naught when Eastern Tech goalie Ryan Jankowiak made a save on Erick Kim’s shot in front off a corner kick.
Minutes later, the Mavericks took over the game.
Abd-Elazem settled a ball at midfield and sent a through ball to Nesteruk, who dribbled three times to get inside the penalty area before tying the game with a neatly placed shot in the lower right corner.
The winning goal from Abd-Elazem was equally efficient.
“I won the head ball, played it to Dillon and he found me on the through ball and I finished in the bottom corner,” Abd-Elazem said. “It felt really good, especially since we had a lot of chances and couldn’t finish. When you finish, it just feels really good.”
Nesteruk believes the Mavericks learned a valuable lesson.
“Whether it’s a rivalry or not, we have to come into every game with the mindset that we will be hungry to win. We have to win the 50-50 balls, we have to be hungry to score and just be determined and motivated,” he said.
The Gators are a young team of mostly underclassmen, and their inexperience showed in the second half. Perry Hall coach Pete Eibner was pleased with the first half, getting the lead and staying organized on defense. But when the game turned in the second half, the Gators changed, too.
“In the second half, we had a chance to go up 2-0 and it didn’t work out and from that point, you just got the feeling we were a little flustered. I think our youth and inexperience showed up,” he said. “But that’s also giving credit to them. I think they changed a little bit and started to go over instead of through and we didn’t adjust well to that. We’re young and with that youth comes a little immaturity and there’s a little bit of a ‘me’ attitude and they just have to focus on the ‘we’ and they’ll grow from it.”
Goals: ET — Nesteruk, Abd-Elazem; PH — Mejia Assists: ET — Abd-Elazem, Nesteruk; PH — Kozel Saves: ET — Jankowiak 2; PH — Gurung 2 Half: PH, 1-0